“He Is…” | Sunday, November 20, 2022
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.— Colossians 1:11-20
The Apostle Paul gave his readers then, and for us now, five benefits that God gives all believers through Christ: (1) He has qualified us to share in His inheritance; (2) He has rescued us from Satan’s dominion of darkness and made us His children; (3) He has brought us into His eternal kingdom; (4) He has redeemed us, buying our freedom from sin and judgement with His blood; and (5) He has forgiven all our sins. We should thank God for what we have received through Christ but also “IN” Christ.
Many, or some of us will gather around a table this week to celebrate Thanksgiving Day to build up our stamina for “Brown Thursday” and “Black Friday.” Each of us has a different list of things for which we are thankful. I read about a young boy who was asked to pray over their family meal, but he said it wasn’t necessary. “We’re at Grandma’s house,” was his reasoning. But I also read somewhere about someone asking the question why we feel it necessary to be before a table full of food before we offer thanks. Just something to think about or to chew on as we enter this holiday season.
Today is what is known as “Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday.” It signifies the end of the church year, and like the turning of the calendar, it presents us with an opportunity to make some assessment of the past year and look to the coming of the New Year with hope, anticipating growth and improvement. Our celebration today emphasizes both the character and purpose of Christ our King and the characteristics and activities that bear His name. As citizens of Christ’s kingdom, we are called to participate in His ministry.
My Mom, bless her heart, is an over-the-top Elvis Presley fan. She even has a life-size cutout of the man and if you touch a button, Elvis says, “Thank you very much” in that all too familiar voice.
There is a book about the King, titled, The World According to Elvis. It shares little known facts about the superstar, such as, Elvis was disappointed when he received a guitar on his 11th birthday. He would have preferred a bicycle. You wouldn’t have learned this stuff by staying in bed and missing church this morning. Did you know that all three of Elvis’s Grammy awards were for religious songs? Do you care? There is one interesting fact that comes out in the book. When Elvis died, he was reading a book on the Shroud of Turin titled, A Scientific Search for The Face of Jesus.
Generally, I’m not that interested in trivia about the late king of rock and roll and I have to agree with the person who said there’s something wrong with a world that thinks God is dead and Elvis is alive! One of Lewis Grizard’s books was titled, Elvis Is Dead and I’m Not Feeling So Good Myself. But yet, I find it interesting that the last piece of material this lonely, hurting man was reading was something titled, A Scientific Search for The Face of Jesus. (Rick’s house of useless knowledge)
We don’t know for sure why the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians. Maybe the Colossians were looking for the face of Jesus themselves. Most of his letters were written to churches that he had started or had some relationship with. Not only did Paul NOT start the Church at Colosse, but he also never ever went there in person.
Was this a letter of encouragement? Was he asked by someone to write in response to a problem or problems?
Some people in the Colossian church held several misconceptions about Jesus that Paul needed to refute: (1) They said that God would not have come to earth as Jesus, a true human being in bodily form, because they believed that only what is spiritual is good and all matter, including the body, is evil. (2) They believed that God did not create the world because he would not have created evil. (3) They said that Christ was not the unique Son of God but rather one of many intermediaries between God and people. And (4) They refused to see Christ as the source of salvation, insisting that people could find God only through special and secret knowledge.
There is also some disagreement as to when it was written depending on the source you use. Some say around 61 A.D. but others say it could have been between 50 and 55 A.D. To put that into context, Mark’s Gospel, the first written, was believed to have been written between 55 and 65 A.D.
It’s probably safe for us to say that it was written just a few years after the actual events of the crucifixion and resurrection and the church was drifting off to sleep. Paul begins the letter by addressing it to “God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” The four most important words in that verse are: “Of Colosse,” and “In Christ.”
Paul could just as easily be writing to the people of “Eastman,” or “Georgia,” or “America” who are brothers and sisters in Christ. The question being: Are we living our lives “In Christ” or are we stuck somewhere else? Are we, like the Church in Colosse falling asleep? Because as you’ve heard me say before, often times we don’t know when we are asleep until we wake up. (Wake up sleeper)
“Of Colosse” or “In Christ?” Maybe this is what Paul was speaking to in this letter. We do know that he has barely scratched the surface when he breaks into our text for this morning.
This is one of the strongest statements about the divine nature of Christ found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus is not only equal with God—He is God; as the visible image of the invisible God, He is the exact representation of God. He not only reflects God, but He reveals God to us; as the firstborn over all creation, He has all the priority and authority of the firstborn prince in a king’s household.
Because Christ created all and rules all creation, including the spirit world, we must believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Without this core belief, our Christian faith becomes hollow, misdirected, and meaningless. We must oppose the belief that Jesus was merely a prophet, a good teacher, or one of many ways to a relationship with God.
I guess about two years ago now I learned a new phrase to describe the rut we can get in with our faith walk. It’s a two-word phrase: “Holy Discontent.” It’s a place we can get into where we aren’t happy with our spiritual self. We want more. We seek more.
What Paul is telling the Colossians, who seem to be in “Holy Discontent,” is that the Gospel tells us to turn our eyes on Jesus. To lift Him up. To see Him through a new lens—that we can’t get this year’s new fruit off of last year’s branches.
When Billy Graham visited American soldiers in Korea during the conflict there, he made it a point to go to the hospitals to talk and pray with those who had been wounded. One day he was visiting a hospital and met a boy who was lying face down in a canvas cradle because his spine had been shattered by a bullet. A hole had been cut in the bottom of the cradle so the soldier could see through to the floor. When Graham was talking to him, the young soldier said, “I would like to see your face, Mr. Graham.” Billy Graham got down on his back under the cradle so the boy could look down at his face.
We must see Jesus. We were made to behold Him. His life, not in general but in a thousand different specific ways, must become our vision. His preexistence, preeminence, conception, birth, life, words, deeds, miracles, relationships, signs, sermons, parables, prayers, suffering, passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, and eternal reign must become our holy obsession.
This is the message that Paul offers the Colossians, and the Columbians, and the Americans and the Africans, and everyone else. We must see Jesus. We must fix our gaze upon Him because we become like what or whom we behold.
The late, great Paul Harvey once wrote: If I were the devil, I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world; I would delude the minds of the people into thinking that their power and prosperity had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings; I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around; I would convince people that character is not an issue…I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agendas as politically correct; I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date and the Bible is for the naïve. I would institutionalize the Church to the degree that her number one priority would be the preservation of the institution, not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ…I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional, and that it really doesn’t matter what you believe about God as long as you are sincere in your belief. I would…well, come to think of it, I would leave things pretty much the way they are now!
My friends, Jesus Christ is the ascended Lord of heaven and earth; in Him the fullness of God dwells. He is the head of the body—the Church. He is the “Firstborn from among the dead.” He was raised from the dead, and His resurrection proves His lordship over the material world. All who trust in Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with Him.
Because Jesus is spiritually supreme in the universe, we must give Him first place in all our thoughts and activities. Will it be “In Colosse” or “In Christ?” In Eastman? Or in Georgia? Or in America? Or “In Christ?”
Both the Colossians and we were once alienated from God in our minds. Christ has accomplished a reconciliation between the believer and God by means of an offering of His own life. The result of this is a restoration to full fellowship and the unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor of God.
A few years back the musical group “Casting Crowns” had a hit song titled, Who Am I. I thought about one of the verses from this song this week”
Not because of what we are
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what we’ve done
But because of who you are
Who are we? We are the forgiven—saved—children of the light. And because of what Jesus has done we belong to Him—we are His—and on this day we are reminded that He is our King!
Thanks be to God!