“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 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,” Colossians 1:15-22*
It would be quite an impossible undertaking to unpack the height of the supremacy of Christ here and now, but oh how our hearts would soar with the daily revisiting of this reality: that He is before and above all things and altogether first and highest and best.
Amid a culture that perhaps swings the pendulum to what Jen Wilkin calls (with tongue in cheek) “snuggly daddy God”, having our eyes lifted to the reality of transcending superiority of our God Almighty is necessary to consume our thoughts. As my pastor has wisely observed, we must know both the transcendence and the imminence of God; He is both high-above-Lord-over-all-things and He is Lord-who-is-near-to-you and knows the number of hairs on your head. He is close and near and He loves you dearly. He is also matchless and incomparable beyond all human understanding.
Lets unpack some of the meanings of these words in Paul’s purposes language:
image: in the likeness of, Christ’s divine nature and absolute moral excellence
thrones, dominions, power, authorities: power, lordship, governor of the world, angels or demons,
before: superiority or preference, in front of, prior to
hold together: establish, prove, band together, unite parts into one whole
preeminent: first in rank, hold the first place
reconcile: to bring back to a state of harmony
alienated: shut out from fellowship and intimacy
blameless: morally without blemish, faultless, unblaneable
These cosmically charged and eternally weighted truths beckon a moment of pause in our souls. Pastor Mark Vroegop summed up a central truth of the Lordship of Christ as stated in Colossians, “You don’t make Jesus the Lord of your life, He already is. We just have to learn to deal with it.”
We Americans are far removed from a system of reigning monarchs, so the concept of Christ Jesus on His glorious throne can be a stretch for me to conceptualize, even when earthly sovereigns are still but a shadow of the true King of the Universe. My life is not a democracy where God, my friends, my whims of the day, popular opinion, and I throw in our votes and mix it around to reach a decision. He is King both over me and over all creation. He is not to be trifled with, yet He is also Love. If we are in Christ, this news of His ultimate authority is for our ultimate good and His final glory.
We know this to be true because of the very next breath Paul writes out of Spirit-inspired truth… The ink was barely dry from illustrating the glory of the Risen Christ when he pens of what God did with His glory and goodness: He won the hearts of wayward sinners like us. “Here is the awe-inspiring mystery of the God-man, Jesus Christ – He who threw out the stars with His hands also had nails driven through those hands to reconcile us who were once alienated, hostile, and evil,” (footnotes from Gospel Transformation Bible). Oh what hope we have, friends!
How do we connect the cosmic to the ordinary? It is Jesus Himself. This is incarnational love, and He bids only that we come to Him. When humans fail, bodies are tired and broken, housework mundane and by nature repetitive, when a call to obedience means opening a heart again to love, money hemorrhages from accounts, marriage is a hard-fought gift, children disobey – in and through and above it all we hold on to this hope: He was there before it and He will be here with us long after. He holds our situation in the palm of His hand. He is on His throne. And He paid dearly for His Royal Highness to bleed to death to make you His own, for He loves you so.
*Would you consider making this passage from Colossians a repeated chorus in your life during this season of Lent? Read it aloud, marinate in your heart by mulling it over, find it in different translations, write it out, ask questions to God about it, paraphrase it, memorize it? See how He might just transform you through it?