Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In All Things, Christ First

    In preparing for a blog post on a different topic, I happened to run across this verse and get distracted from my original thoughts. So, you'll have to wait for my previous post for a while longer, while I post on Col. 1:18 today.

    "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col. 1:18) This is the KJV translation, the following is from my preferred NASV: "He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything."

    Both these translations reflect clearly the point I will be writing about today: the preeminence of Christ. Part of this lesson I will be borrowing from one of my favorite speakers, Dr. Jerry Benjamin, who has spoken on this topic every time I've ever heard him preach.

    One very poignant lesson that Dr. Benjamin preaches on is that of the difference between preeminence and prominence. Here's an example that I've heard him use to teach on this topic. If a man were to tell his wife that she is prominent among his affections, she would probably be offended. Why?

    Because prominent reflects the idea of one among many. Sure, the prominent person is important, but prominent over what? Obviously, there's other people there that her husband has noticed! That wouldn't be taken as a compliment. Prominence refers to a high status, but not the highest.

    However, if a husband were to tell his wife that she is preeminent in his affection, it has a whole other meaning. Preeminent reflects supremacy, to the point that others are hardly noticed. It's no contest at all, and requires no thought as to who is highest in one's affections.

    This is the word that Paul, inspired by God, chose to use in this verse to describe God's rightful due. Jesus Christ is to Himself be the preeminent one in our affections, with no one else even remotely second. Our love, our affection, and our obedience to Christ should make our relationship to any other human on earth appear to be hatred in comparison (Lk. 14:26-27).

    But Paul said something else that should catch our attention. In what is Christ to have the preeminence? In the previous verse, Paul states that by Christ, all things exist and are held together (v. 17). However, v. 18 specifically addresses Christ as head of the Body (the church) and the first-born of the dead, targeting his role as Head of the church and Head of the corner (Ps. 118:22). As such, Paul proclaims that in all things, but particularly in the matter he's addressing at the moment (the church), Christ should have the preeminence.

    So first of all, Christ is to be preeminent in all things. Every single thing we do is to have Christ intermingled throughout it, with the focus being Him, with  the glory going to Him. As I write this, I can feel all the times I've failed to do this, and all the times I have done things for the sole purpose of bringing glory and reward to myself. So, I am guilty of this more than anyone else reading this post.

    But specifically, I want to mention Christ's position of preeminence in the church. I fear that many Christians, myself included all too often, do not come to church with Christ as our single, all-consuming focus. Instead, Christ can be simply a name to bring a group of people together to church and hear a motivational speech on clean, moral living. Christ can be a slogan in the church to convince people to go out and vote. Christ can be a badge of the church to be worn to show our own superiority over the world.

    But in none of these things is Christ given the preeminence. None of these things reflect an attitude that church is supposed to reflect: that of total admiration, worship, awe, reverence, and love for Jesus Christ. Church is not a place to do my business, whether or not it is morally good, but instead a place to pursue Christ, and to allow Him to pursue me.

    Now, this could easily be interpreted to be dismissing all fellowship and healthy interaction between believers. Certainly that is not my intention! But Christ is the one that demands preeminence, not I. So, in order to try to obey Scripture, we must attempt to give Christ the preeminence He deserves, even if that is by bringing up as a topic of conversation during a ball game with your friends after a church service, or in the car on the way home.

    Jesus is not something to be talked about during a 45 minute sermon, then left at the door when we leave. He is to be constantly on our thoughts and lips, constantly shown through our actions, and constantly taught to others by our example. Christ is to be lived and breathed through every fiber of our being.

    So, this next week (and after that) try to keep Christ in our thoughts. Think of Him constantly, and serve Him as we go about our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great study. Let's place Him again and again in the centre of our thought. Is hard, but He'll help us to that when we are praying for it.