Friday, December 28, 2012

EJ100 #3 Colossians 1:15-23

Today's Essential Jesus reading: Colossians 1:15-23.

The apostle Paul, together with his co-worker Timothy, wrote to the Christians in Collossae, beginning with a description of Jesus, and a description of the gospel.

Paul and Timothy described Jesus:
  • Jesus is the Son (of God);
  • Jesus is the image of the invisible God [remember John 1:18?];
  • Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (primogeniture in this case relates to Jesus' status as the inheritor of his Father's estate - the entire universe; all power and authority);
  • In and through Jesus all things were created [remember John 1:2?];
  • For Jesus all things were created (for his enjoyment, his glory);
  • Jesus is "before" all things, as John the Baptist testified, "He ... has surpassed me because he was before me" [John 1:15], and as Jesus himself claimed, "Before Abraham was born, I AM" [John 8:58]; [see also Jude 1:25];
  • In Jesus all things hold together: Jesus is the Sustainer of the universe;
  • Jesus is the head of the church, which is metaphorically described as Jesus' body;
  • Jesus is the beginning;
  • Jesus is the firstborn from among the dead [see Acts 2:32 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,20-23];
  • Jesus is supreme among all things (all events, all situations, all individuals);
  • God's fullness (the entirety of God's divine nature) is found in Jesus - and this pleases God;
  • Through Jesus, God reconciles all things to himself [Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:14-18; see also Colossians 1:22];
  • Jesus made peace between mankind and God through his blood, shed on the cross.
After describing Jesus, Paul and Timothy described the situation of Christians, people who have faith and hope in the gospel:
  • Once (previously) Christians were alienated, separated, from God because of their evil behaviour;
  • Christians' previous thoughts had made them into the enemies of God;
  • Now, God has reconciled Christians to himself, through the physical death of Jesus' body;
  • Now, Christians are holy in God's sight;
  • Now, Christians are free from markings;
  • Now, Christians are free from accusations of guilt;
  • This is certain if Christians continue firmly in the faith they have established;
  • This is certain if Christians do not move from the hope that is presented to them in the gospel (the good news of God's reconciliation to mankind achieved through the death of Jesus Christ).

This passage highlights the reconciliation between mankind and God that was achieved by Jesus' death on the cross. "For God was pleased ... through [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things ... by making peace through [Jesus'] blood, shed on the cross. ... now [God] has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight" (1:19,20,22).

A decade or so ago, "reconciliation" was the buzz-word in Australia. Specifically, people of many cultures and races were working to achieve reconciliation between the white (European-descent) Australians and Aboriginal Australians. The climax of this reconciliation process came on Wednesday, 13 Feb 2008, when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the general Aboriginal populace for the events of the Stolen Generation. The Stolen Generation refers to a time when children with mixed-race parentage were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in orphanages to be raised away from Aboriginal influence.

The PM saying "sorry" was intended to restore the relationship between white and Aboriginal Australians to a more equal, united footing. Whether it worked or not is questionable, although the public apology was certainly celebrated at the time by a large crowd of enthusiastic onlookers and those who participated via the media. The success (or not) of that reconciliation event between Aboriginal and white Australians is witnessed in everyday interactions between people of these backgrounds today: in business, in social life, in education, in community.

In contrast, the reconciliation event between mankind and God was witnessed by a group of hecklers, military enforcers and a very few true believers. The effectiveness of Jesus' death in achieving reconciliation has been attested in the words of the Bible authors (such as here in this letter). It is also proved by the actions of the lives of Christians, as we continue in our faith, not moving from our hope.

Like Australian reconciliation, the success of Jesus' reconciling death is seen in everyday interactions. In this case, however, the interactions are between Christians and the God whom we have been reconciled to.

As a Christian, who has been reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, I am no longer estranged from God. I should be comforted by the knowledge that I have been united to God in peace. I do not need to fear God because there is no longer enmity between us.

I need to realise that every moment of every day is spent in his presence. This must make a difference to how I live my life. Just as a young woman makes different choices about her behaviour depending on whether she is hanging out with her friends, spending time with her boy friend, or sitting in a classroom or lecture hall, I need to be directed by the realisation that God is with me everywhere.

I can approach God in the casual conversation of prayer. I can spend time getting to know him better by reading and musing over his word. I can look forward to the day we will meet face-to-face. I can listen and respond to the voice of his Holy Spirit in my heart.

> What should change in your life because you are reconciled to God, having been restored to peace and unity with him?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
I love Jesus because he reconciled the relationship between myself and God, which had been broken by sin, to a relationship characterised by peace and unity.

Thank you Jesus,
for what you achieved on the cross,
for what you won with the blood you shed.
Thank you for going before me,
and turning aside God's wrath
so I may some day see the face of God
without fear.

Tomorrow's reading: Hebrews 1:1-4.

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