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Supreme Over All of You

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And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:21-23

supreme over you

“And you.” Two simple words that take the cosmic and redemptive truths of the rest of this exalted section and bring it home: to you, and to me. It’s as if you were in a presentation at the Griffith Observatory, gazing up at the projections of stars and galaxies, while the visiting lecturer speaks of quasars and the speed of light and suddenly, the projections fade, and the lights shine directly onto your seat. Suddenly the lecture is about you: your past, your present, and your future. Whoah! “And you” shifts the dialogue; “and you” brings everything Jesus has done into direct focus and relation to your life.  

Because Jesus is not only Supreme Over Creation and Supreme Over Redemption, but He is supreme over you, all of you.

Our Sinful Past

Paul begins by giving us a picture of what the Colossians were like before Jesus’ work; he describes them as alienated. This is the idea that they were “continuously and persistently out of harmony with God”[1].

This is the state of rebellion that all people are in. It’s an idea further explained as “hostile in mind” and “doing evil deeds.” Before Jesus changes us, our very thought patterns are against God, we are opposed to what He wants to happen, and our rebellious thoughts lead to rebellious action.

Now, some of you came to know the Lord at a point in life where you can remember what it was like before Jesus: the sins that consumed you, a life lived for yourself, opposed to the things of God. But what about those of you that came to know Jesus early, and by His grace were spared from a wild past of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll?

I was led to trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 5. While I was certainly alienated from God in my sin, I sometimes wonder, how hostile was my mind? How evil could my deeds have been? Honestly, I’ve done much worse sins since becoming a Christian than I ever did before. So how is this true for me?

I think that my sins as a Christian are the continuing echoes of what I would have developed fully into if God’s grace didn’t change me. My current sins are little slices of the hostility of mind and evil deeds, that serve to remind me of what I could have become.

The Bible is clear that every single human is sinful or broken, but Christians aren’t the only one that recognize this. The problem is that the trend today is to think that the solution is waiting to be found inside yourself.

Now, you might be thinking, “No, that’s the stuff of self-help books and self-actualization blogs,” but this message has made its way through all of culture. And it’s being targeted to our kids.

In that quintessential philosophical film, Kung Fu Panda 3, the lyrics of the 70’s classic – “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” were changed and in so doing, revealed the underlining message of the film:

Before the battle of the fist, Comes the battle of the mind
When you don't know who you are, Just look inside
When we move into the flow, We're always gonna win
So feel the power that you know, Make sure you let it in

This is the message of our culture: even when we see the problem in ourselves, we still somehow think the answer is found there too. We have the power. We have the solution. We just have to discover/create our identity and then stay true to it.

But the Bible is clear that the answer to our alienation, our hostile mind, and our evil deeds cannot come from within, it must come from without. It must come from the One who is supreme over all things, including your sin.

SUPREME-alienation

Our Holy Present & Future

He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…

The death of Jesus that serves to reconcile the entire universe (making peace by his blood) also serves to reconcile you and me. This was done with a continuing purpose in mind – the holiness of those He has saved. In Jesus’ death on the cross, believers are declared holy, but in actual living, the goal is for them to become holy.

We’ve been made holy in principle, and now need to do it in practice, and in the future Jesus will make it perfect. But we have a part to play: if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…

The hope of our holiness is only good if we hold on to it; continuing in the faith is the test of the reality of faith. Yes, it true, that genuine faith is assured to the end, but this can only be seen with certainty from God’s point of view. He knows true faith from the beginning. From our angle, early faith is hard to distinguish from false faith; we only discover genuine faith through making it to the end.

As Peter T. O’Brien comments, “If it is true that the saints will persevere to the end, then it is equally true that saints must persevere to the end.”[2]

So, to help the church in Colossae to persevere, Paul gives this warning with an “if”. An “if” that requires us to stay true to the hope of the gospel. The good news that the King of kings has made reconciliation possible by His blood – to declare you holy now, and make you holy, if you too continue in the faith. This is where Jesus can take you; all of you.

So what does that mean for us?

First, discover Jesus in order to discover yourself.

To truly discover your identity is to begin with discovering Jesus. You will not find wholeness or satisfaction from the physical world, science, apathy, man-made religion, humanism or yourself. Jesus is the one you need.

SUPREME-holy

Second, don’t try to add to Jesus or take away.

The same Jesus who made you is the only one who can redeem you. He is the only one who can make you holy. Our job is to not stop drinking from His spiritual fountain of life, and to keep from looking for a drink anywhere else. Do not leave the hope of the gospel.

Finally, give Jesus first place in everything.

He’s the eternal, creative, redemptive Lord; supreme King over everything! But is He first in your life?

Years ago, I had the opportunity to counsel a couple who was engaged, but living together. Now, they knew that this was not in-line with God wanted, but to add to the problem, this was also sending a mixed message to the teenage kids living with them, saying, “We believe in Jesus, just not enough to submit our sex life to what He wants.” But when they were confronted with the reality of what Jesus desired, they decided to make a change, a difficult change, an embarrassing and counter-cultural change, which they then used to explain to their children, and their co-workers, and their friends why Jesus deserved priority in their lives, even in the bedroom.

How will you exalt Jesus? Over sports? Over school? Over hobbies? Over fears? Over sin? How will you live out that Jesus has first place over everything? When the presentation shifts and the spotlight shines on you, will people see the connection between the Lord of the Stars, of the Cross and of your life?

Jesus is supreme over all creation, redemption and you.

 

 

[1] Peter T. O’Brien, WBC: Colossians-Philemon, 2000, 66.

[2] Peter T. O’Brien, WBC: Colossians-Philemon, 2000, 69.

 

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Derick Zeulner is an associate pastor at South Shores Church. He has a M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA and he loves the wacky adventures of doing life with his wife, Rebecca, and 4 kids.

1 Comment

Always good to be reminded to let go of the idea that you do one thing and receive another. I have been thinking about elite athletes and other masters of something on earth. Once I saw an interview with a race car driver who was talking about his faith and praying before each race. He said he doesn’t usually pray for an outcome. Yet, in practice, he was so competitive - a champion. I think it’s a lie of the world that you can’t race hard or work hard unless you do this special thing of “believe in yourself.” If you chant affirmations, you are believing in yourself, but if you simply pray because you love God and then throw yourself into the practice of mastering an activity, then that’s supposed to be less effective.

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