“We proclaim him,” writes the Apostle Paul in today’s Bible Gateway verse of the day from Colossians 1:28, “admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.”
And the important word here is “him” (or actually, “whom”, since in the Greek this is a continuation of the previous verse: “To them [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we proclaim ... etc,” cf KJV).
Moreover, the continuation of thought here is important, because Colossians begins with some astonishing statements about Christ, not least the words of vv 15-16,
He [Christ] 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.
If we ask that old question beloved of cosmologists, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” the answer Scripture gives is simple: “Because of Christ” — for “all things were created by him and for him.”
But this has very important implications for our preaching of the gospel. As Paul says, it is Christ whom he proclaims in order to achieve the work God has given him to do, to present on the Last Day a host of people who are “perfect in Christ”.
The idea of ‘perfection’ entails ‘completeness’ — people being what they ought to be. And that must also pick up on something in v 15 where Christ is called the ‘image’ of God. For of course in the beginning the entire human race was made to ‘image’ God (Genesis 1:26).
We must not make the mistake of assuming that Christ has somehow displaced us as image-bearers. On the contrary, later in Colossians Paul writes that all God’s people have,
... put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
All the saints of God are becoming renewed ‘images’ of God. But for that to happen completely they must be constantly and carefully taught and admonished (1:28).
And the content of this teaching and admonition, notice, is not ‘Christian ethics’ or ‘moral behaviour’. It is not a set of ideas or the performance of religious exercises. It is Christ himself. We must therefore ask about the Christ we are proclaiming and who is proclaimed in our churches.
Is this Christ the one who made the world (1:16)? Is he the one for whom the world was made (1:16)? Is he one in whom the fullness of God dwells in bodily form (2:8)? Is he the be-all and end-all, not just of our lives, but of the very existence of all things? Often, for all our acknowledgment of him, there seems to be ‘clear water’ between Christ and God in our thinking and preaching. But if this, diminished, Christ is the Christ we proclaim, how can we expect to produce people who are perfect in him whom Paul proclaimed very differently?
As Paul suggests, to know Christ is to have wisdom, and the more we are taught of him, the more wisdom we have. Let that be our guiding thought for today.
John RichardsonAnonymous users wishing to paste in the comments box need first to select 'preview', then close the preview box. When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.
7 September 2010
7 September 2010