In the previous post in this series, we focused on Paul’s prayer for the church (Col. 1:9-14); namely, a prayer for spiritual wisdom and discernment in order to understand God’s will. Understanding God’s will was not simply for knowledge sake, but more importantly for the purpose of pleasing God with one’s life. In addition, we saw 4 characteristics of people who please God; (1) they bear fruit, (2) they grow in the knowledge of God, (3) they are strengthened for the situations of life, and (4) they give thanks. Paul concluded his prayer in vv. 13-14, reminding us that without Christ’s work there is not one single request that could have been fulfilled.
As a result, Paul turns his attention to Christ himself. In this short section of Col 1:15-20 Paul explains several truths about Christ that should motivate us to want to love him more, serve him more, and worship him more than we do right now. We are going to consider four of those truths.
Truth #1: Jesus is of first priority (v. 15)
According to Col. 1:15, Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation.” This verse has been used by some to say that Jesus is a created being and thus not God at all, or at least that Jesus is some “lesser God” than the Father. This line of interpretation fails on two accounts and completely misses the point. First, it fails because it ignores the context. We will see in v. 16 that it is by Christ that all creation came into being (not simply the “creation” that was not him). Second, it fails to properly understand “firstborn” terminology. The term used here can either mean “first” in the sense of sequence, “first” in the sense of “prior existence,” or first in the sense of priority or importance. We believe that last meaning is the proper one in this context. As a result the point of v. 15 is that Jesus is of first priority over all creation.
Can I ask you: Does Jesus really have priority over all of God’s creation?
- Is Jesus more important than your job?
- Is Jesus more important than your pleasures (sports, gardening, etc.)?
- Is Jesus more important than every other person in your life including your spouse, children, and parents?
If Jesus does not have priority over everything in your life, then your priorities are not in the proper order.
Truth #2: All of creation is designed for Christ (vv. 16-17)
In vv. 16-17 the Bible tells us that all of creation is designed for Christ. Just in case we missed the point of “all” in v. 16, the passage explains that “all” includes things “visible” and “invisible.” I don’t know about you, but I think that pretty much covers everything! Every piece of creation, whether we are talking out the material world in which we live, or the spiritual world of demons and angels–every single piece of creation was designed by and for Christ.
While this has many implications, let’s consider just two of them:
- It implies that everything you are was designed for Christ … your mind, your strength, your energy, and your abilities were designed for Christ.
- What would happen in our churches if everyone believed that everything was designed for Christ?
- How would that impact service?
- How would that impact stewardship?
- Can you imagine what our world would be like if all of Christ’s followers really believed and functioned in a way that everything was designed for Christ?
- It implies that everything you own or have access to is designed for Christ … your house, your vehicles, your stuff, all of it is designed for Christ.
- As one person wisely said, “either the things we own are idols or they are tools to worship Jesus.”
- Is that the way that you view the things that God has given you?
In addition to Christ being involved in creation and all creation being for him, the text adds a third truth to the equation.
Truth #3: Jesus is to have first place in everything (v. 18)
According to v. 18, not only is all of creation designed for Christ, but the goal is that Jesus would come to have first place in everything… in everything! Jesus is to have first place in everything – that is the point of the text! Therefore, I hope that you are a person who says that what you want to be known for more than anything else is that you are wholehearted and passionate follower of Christ. Well… just for a little fun let’s take a little inventory …
Does the language and tone with which you speak give Jesus first place? Or would you have to admit that there are times you are mean, harsh, and incredibly selfish in the words that you use?
Do you control your thinking in such a way that Jesus gets first place? Or would you have to admit that you allow your mind to wander in all sorts of directions that would not honor Christ?
Do you use your time in such a way that Jesus is getting first place?
Do you use your phone, your computer, your Twitter account, and your Facebook page in a way that demonstrates Jesus has first place in your life?
Friend, if you answer any of these questions “no” then please let me encourage you to confess to God, ask for his forgiveness, and write out 1 or 2 ways that you can begin to take a step of growth in giving Jesus first place.
Truth #4: Jesus is our Redeemer (vv. 19-20)
This paragraph ends by explaining why Jesus has first place; simply, because he is our redeemer. We have peace because he gave his life on the cross. There is no reconciliation with God without the death of Jesus. So please, right now, thank God for the redeeming ministry of your savior Jesus and then ask him to help you take a step of growth in giving Christ first place in everything.
When we understand that Jesus is our redeemer, we will love him more, serve him more, worship him more, and thus give him first place in everything–which is exactly what he deserves! May God help you this week seek to give Jesus first place in everything.