Here is the meditation we did in Life Group last week on the passage in Colossians 1. As is usual for our group, we only touched on many of the themes within the verses. In preparing I felt that the tendency is to bring our rational and intellectual minds to a passage -which of course is a good thing. Yet some passages will not give up their treasures like this, hence a meditation.
We read the passage over several times to get us started. You might like to do the same.
Our aim is to read this passage as a meditation – to experience it – to allow us to immerse ourselves in it. To allow the Holy Spirit to take us where he wants with it. Do not fight the impressions that come upon you as we read. The Spirit speaks through our imaginations. Acknowledge wayward thoughts for what they are – monkeys playing in the trees, or a cloud that floats across the sun.
15He 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. (ESV)
As I read these words I am conscious that they emanate from another realm – in these words we find our mortal brother Paul reaching in his attempt to explain something that cannot be grasped by the vain and the proud. Something that we, without our thoughtful intention, and in our haste, can treat merely as a distraction, so impressed upon us are the cares of this life.
These words have a reach that goes outside of the confines of our physical experience. They reach beyond the rational, the mere understanding of the verbs, nouns and adjectives, and into the heart of the loving infinite creator, who is not bound by such things.
In a profound way, our lives are a movement with, and into, the limitless ocean that is encompassed by, and yet within the Divine Trinity. The vast expanse of the ocean drives home our smallness. This is a good space to be in. Not safe necessarily, but good beyond our imagining. Like Ezekiel and countless numbers of creation we go into the waters, ever deeper, more conscious of the power and love that surrounds us.
So, with this in mind, I will share a few thoughts about this passage.
He, Jesus is the image of God. We cannot see God as he is. Doubtless this is another act of kindness towards us in our broken-smallness. In Eden, our divine Mother and Father reigned in their perfection, as imagers of God. All that the human race was, and will be, is displayed in Christ. As a mirror reflects the power and intensity of the sun which shines upon it, so Yeshua fully reflects the glory of the unseen God into the human realm. When we see Jesus, we see God.
For all our knowledge and striving we know little of this infinite image in the realm of earthly fog. Though the inward longing to ‘know more fully’ will be met, in the time in which we live, I share little with the nature of this image. I know next to nothing of its power and of its glory. We see as in a mirror, dimly lit, out of focus. Yet the deep calls out to me.
When a butterfly unexpectedly lands upon my finger, I am hardly aware that it is there. Rather than to just ‘be still’ in the joyous experience of the moment, I find that I am somehow driven to ‘improve’ the encounter. To raise my hand for a closer look. To call my friend to see. To reach for my phone as if to somehow capture it. As suddenly as the image became clear so it fades. But it will return. Unbidden and unexpected. The God of Surprises.
David was the lastborn son of Jesse. Yet in the psalms we find God making ‘him’, David, ‘the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.’ Ps 89. ‘Jesus the firstborn of all creation’ has nothing to say about Jesus being created by God, as some suggest. Rather, it reflects his status ‘for by him all things, in heaven and earth’ were created. All things…. In heaven….. All things in earth….. Created by him. Imagine that. Allow your mind to play with that idea. All things in heaven. All things on earth. How far does your heart allow this statement to take you? Do you feel a monetary sense of doubt in response to the joy?
All things were ‘created for him’. You…were created for him and in ‘Him all things hold together.’ You hold together in him. What would happen if he stopped ‘holding all things together?’ As someone has said ‘If God, on the count of three, were to suddenly stop loving you, on the count of three you would cease to exist’.
We are ‘hidden with Christ in God’. He knew, before the ages, who you were to be. Imagine the implications of that. He has always loved you. You were not thought of in the mind of God to be defeated, to be down trodden, to be a slave. We see ourselves dimly, out of focus. He sees the real you. In the infinite nature of this God it is futile to say ‘we are not good enough’.
To be preeminent in something you must join yourself with that thing you seek to master. This is true in the human realm; think of the hours we must spend to develop a skill. Musicians tell us that at times they as one with their instrument, that the creativity flows through them.
In order to be ‘preeminent’ over all things the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus. This fullness of God, which fills all things, left the clarity and purity and transparency of the heavenly realm and was joined in time and space to our way of life, in the fog of the human realm. The trinity joined our joys. And the trinity joined our sorrows. Jesus joined himself to death, the natural outworking of our brokenness, and by doing so was preeminent over it. This was pleasing to God. The final foe was defeated as the light of life overcame the darkness to which it was willingly joined. Our brokenness, our pain and our death was taken into the source of all that is good, and holy and pure and life giving.
Death was was swallowed up. ‘Oh death, where is your victory’.
He is the image of the invisible God – the firstborn over all creation.