By Wally Odum
A few years ago, Gwen and I joined our small group in a Christmas celebration. We went to a restaurant in Chesapeake, Virginia on a cold December evening. When I walked into the lobby, I smelled hot apple cider. There were two containers. There was no line at one of the ceramic bowls. I walked over to it and detected the unmistakeable aroma of hot apple cider. I determined that the smart thing to do was to take a cup and scoop cider out of the pot that was getting no attention. I did it and drank a mouthful of foul tasting potpourri. I learned an important lesson. Don’t go for the phony when the real is available.
That’s what the apostle Paul was saying to the church in Colosse. There was a smorgasbord of false teachings available, all of which demeaned Christ. He reminded them, in the letter to the Colossians, “Jesus is everything.”
Colosse was a pluralistic city with competing ideas, philosophies and worldviews. False teachers were telling believers that there was a better way to God than through Jesus. Paul responded by pointing out that who Jesus is and what He did for us are the nonnegotiable truths of Christianity.
For those who want to know more about Jesus, there is no passage in Scripture that better describes him than Paul’s words to the Colossian church. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).
The heart of Paul’s argument is that Jesus is God. “He is the image of the invisible God” (15). That is an essential truth. There were different prevailing views about God in the culture of that day. The Greeks thought at least two things about God. The Stoics taught that God was without feeling and was totally unconcerned about us. The Epicureans believed that God wasn’t interested in us because He was preoccupied with His own pleasure. The Hebrews, familiar with the Old Testament, knew that God was invisible.
The Christian view of God is shaped by what Paul wrote. Jesus is the “image” of God. The Greeks used a form of this word for a drawn portrait, the nearest thing at that time to our photograph. When the Greeks made a formal contract, they included the chief characteristics and distinguishing marks of the contracting parties. That detailed description was called the “image.”
The world is looking to see God and we are the ones to whom He has entrusted His picture—Jesus. If we wonder how God feels about sinners, the answer is the way Jesus reached out to them. If we doubt that God really loves us, we see Jesus dying on the Cross. As Paul expressed it, Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.”
One other description Paul gives of Jesus is striking. “In him all things hold together.” It doesn’t take more than casual observation to note that things have a tendency to deteriorate if left unattended: old cars, houses and relationships. One of the miracles Jesus brings to us is His willingness and ability to hold things together. He not only holds the universe together, but He holds us together.
If someone were to say to me, “Wally, I’m falling apart, going to pieces,” I would say, “You don’t have to fall apart, trust Jesus to hold you together.” The One who made the universe and holds it together has reached down to touch our lives with His creative power and sustain us.
The good news is the same now as it was the day Paul wrote his letter. Jesus paid for us so we could enjoy the promises of God. I can know what God is like because of Jesus and I can participate in God’s blessing because Jesus, my Savior, has paid the bill for me. He holds us together, even if the world seems to be falling apart.
Copyright © Wally Odum 2012. Used by permission.
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Pastor Wally Odum has been in ministry for 30 years and loves to share the Gospel. He brings a relevant, inspirational approach to the Bible. Wally values relevance, but he also values authenticity. His goal is to make Biblical truth relevant to the lives of all who hear him. Visit Wally Odum's Website - www.wallyodum.com.
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