56For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58
Ever since the Great Catastrophe in the Garden of Eden, humanity has pressed against the infection of death — work is hard and often filled with thorns and thistles. Solomon called it, “Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity.” This cry against the despair and futility of life is sometimes translated “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.” Sometimes life feels that way. But here’s the good news of Jesus and His Gospel: He gives us victory over sin and death. He makes use of our work and our faith in Him. Its never useless! Its never useless to live your life for Jesus!
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For 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. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And 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. Colossians 1:15-18
Scholars are not sure exactly what kind of “heresy” was shaking up the church in Colossea. The teaching they encountered put in doubt the sufficiency of Christ Jesus for their salvation and lives. They were knocking Jesus off His throne. Rather than attack the teaching, Paul seeks to expand their vision of Jesus. It’s a view that will blow your mind.
Jesus, the beloved Son of God, is the King of Creation.
He is the image of the invisible God.
He is the firstborn of all creation, having preeminence over all things, and powers.
He is the creator of all things; of they have their origin through Him and for Him.
He is before all things.
He is the glue that holds all things together.
When I walk through the UBC campus, I delight in this knowledge: here is a place dedicated to the study of all that Jesus has made and what we have done with it, and what we could do with it. That may not be your default position. It may not have been the Colossians’ default position. But it is the reset they needed in order to fulfill their purpose as His people. For all of creation, and we are part of it, has its purpose inseparably rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.
4“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon… Jeremiah 29:4
The Israelites having been dragged from their homes in Jerusalem and force-marched to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were longing for home. Their itching ears grasped hold of every voice that promised a quick return. But Jeremiah basically tells them to let it go. God has sent them.
God sent them to Babylon.
In Christian discipleship the theme of “exile” challenges us to live sent. We are longing for a home where all goes well. But now we are what Peter called “sojourners and exiles.” (1 Peter 2:11) We could just bide our time and tread water, taking what we can from the world. But Jesus will not have it that way. God always has His exiles formed with the word, “sent.”
I sent you.
If God sends us into a wilderness, a city, a difficulty, a workplace, a church, a nation, a campus or even our hometown, He sends us with a purpose. There we can get to know Him. There we can see Him form our heart and character for His purposes. There we be a part of His plan for people. There we can announce the extraordinary good news of God. Its at this point that we must have a proper view of the One who sends us.
Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
We’ve been sent as servants of the crucified King, the Lamb of God, the Shepherd of our souls.
Live like an exile; live sent.