Colossians Devotional | Before All and First in Everything
Colossians: Christ Above and at the Center
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
Jesus: Before All and First in Everything, Day 3
“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” - (Colossians 1:15-23)
No lie: this is some of my favorite scripture in the whole Bible. If you want the Jesus of the Bible summarized for you, briefly, clearly, and powerfully...look no further. The Colossians sorely needed it--and we need it no less, two thousand years later!
The Colossians needed help knowing the truth about who Jesus is. They were being told lies about him from a pagan cult we now call the Gnostics. They believed that everything spiritual is good and that everything physical is bad. They were teaching the Colossian church that they knew the real truth about Jesus. He wasn’t God in the flesh. He was an emmanation of God--like a spiritual “echo” that only seemed to be flesh and blood. Of course, God wouldn’t take a physical form. Physical things are evil. He only seemed to have a body and only seemed to die on the cross and only seemed to resurrect from the dead.
Another attack against the identity of Jesus was coming from a group claiming to be Christians, but weren’t. Paul calls them the “Judaizers.” They taught that Jesus was the Son of God, but in order to be saved, you needed Jesus’ gospel plus you needed all the traditional Jewish customs and laws. They taught that the gospel was: Jesus + moral perfection + religious customs = salvation. In essence, Jesus isn’t enough.
These aren’t entirely different from the lies about Jesus we face today. We often hear that Jesus is just one of the multitude of ways to get to God. That Jesus was a good teacher, but not God. That you need Jesus’ love and help, but you can’t be saved unless you get baptized or give money or show that you have the gift of speaking in tongues (if you don’t know what that last one is, don’t worry about it today).
Here, Paul tells us:
Who Jesus is: God, in the flesh, truly the God-man; “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in him;” “the image of the invisible God;”
What Jesus has done: he lived for us, died for us, and made peace between us and God
The importance of Jesus: he’s first...not just at the top of the list of important things in our lives, but he comes before each of those things...it’s not just Jesus above all else--it’s Jesus before each and every thing
Jesus, Paul says, is preeminent. No one’s more important. No one’s more central. Jesus is the star at the center of your system, the gravity of his goodness making everything orbit around him. He’s the first person to ever live perfectly, the only person who can die for anyone else’s sins, the first person to conquer death, and he’s head--the leader--of the church. He made everything, keeps everything together, and owns everything.
There is no other way to God--no other knowledge and no other rule. You can’t get to him on your own, through moralism or religious ability. It’s only and just Jesus. Jesus + nothing = everything.
Through the rest of this letter, Paul instructs us in what life looks like when Jesus above and before everything else. I can’t wait to walk with you through it!
Christians are tempted to think: if I get my “Jesus time” out of the way (praying and reading the Bible), then I can move on with the rest of my day. This is terrible! Jesus isn’t just first on the list...we’re supposed to eat and work and rest and play--everything--with Jesus at the center of every action, word, thought, and moment. Today, don’t think about “getting time with the Lord done.” Think about (and then do it!) living each moment with Jesus as most important.
What are you possibly trying to add to your salvation? Jesus + something = God’s approval. We can’t add to Jesus’ perfection and centrality. What is it you believe you have to add to what Jesus has done to make you right with God? You can know what’s in that “blank,” if you can finish this sentence: Yeah, I know Jesus saves me, but God won’t really love me unless I do [or] know this other thing…
Repent and leave behind whatever it is you’re adding to the gospel. As you live with Jesus today, central and most important in everything, be mindful of what you’ve been trying to add to him.