Saints in the Light
Throughout the month of November, I will be reflecting on the book of Colossians, and I invite you to spend time reading and reflecting on these words from the apostle Paul and Timothy to the church in Colossae. This week, we will spend a few moments reflecting on the first chapter of Colossians.
Click here to Read Colossians 1.
The book of Colossians seems to have been written to a group of Christians who are trying to understand the way the world works and how faith operates in such a world. Many of the Gentile believers in Colossae would have backgrounds in various religions, worshipping a multitude of gods and even spirits, yet they have also heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Epaphras, one of Paul’s converts in Ephesus, has taken the message of Jesus to nearby Colossae, and there has shared the message of reconciliation with the one true God who we meet fully in Jesus. Yet, the various religious backgrounds of those in this city have perhaps muddled or watered down the uniqueness of the Christian faith.
Perhaps as you read that sentence, you wonder whether we ourselves are not in a similar situation today. From nationalism on one end of the spectrum to social movements on the other, the Christian faith seems to be more about particular issues today than it does about the person of Jesus who introduces the fullness of God to us, paving a way to reconciliation with the Creator of the cosmos. (Now, to be sure, the Christian faith does have something to say about social issues as well as how we can effectively live in a situated place in the world; however, the heart of the message of Jesus never changes and always stays in the central position.)
So, what do Paul and Timothy have to say to the Colossian church, and what can we glean from their writing? I’m glad I asked!
As I read this chapter, of course, there are many places to highlight. But for today, allow me to choose 2 items for our consideration. The first and most obvious is the Christ hymn that comes in Colossians 1:15-20. Paul writes (or more likely, copies) this hymn to remind the Colossians of just who Jesus is.
- Jesus is the image of the invisible God. You don’t have to wonder who God is anymore, now you can look to Jesus!
- All things were created through and for Jesus; there is nothing more important, powerful, or influential than Jesus.
- All things are held together in Jesus. The very fabric of the world is infused with the presence of God. God is not distant, but he is near. Jesus is sustaining all things.
- Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus is the center of our faith, he is the guide to us when we are lost, he is priority #1.
- Through Jesus, God is fully present to us, and we are able to be fully present with God. Without Jesus, we would still be separated from God by our own sinfulness and selfishness.
There is much to reflect on here, and I encourage you to spend time this week, perhaps even every day, reading this hymn and reflecting on Jesus.
But, as I read, I also noticed another piece of this chapter that captured my attention. Verses 12-14 describe two opposite outcomes for humanity. One, Paul and Timothy refer to as “the inheritance of the saints in the light.” The other, the “power of darkness.” I think we may be able to draw a parallel here to the description the Jesus gives during his ministry as well with the “Kingdom of God” and the kingdoms of this world.
What Paul and Timothy want the Colossians to know is that the Gospel invites them into a kingdom of light and out of a kingdom of darkness. They have the ability to be present with the God who created the entire cosmos, and access to that God is through Jesus, not through any other god or any other religious enlightenment.
These passages remind us today that Jesus is at the center of our faith. Anything that leaves out Jesus, or that says that Jesus is not enough, Paul and Timothy state, is unhelpful and unnecessary. But they also give a summons to the Colossian Christians, and to readers of Scripture today: come into the Kingdom of Light. You are welcomed into God’s presence.
This week, let us take the time to reflect and act upon how it is that we might participate in the inheritance of the saints in the light.