SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published in February 2020.
Welcome to Thursday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Colossians 1: 15-20. Today we’ll focus on verse 15-16:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
We have a framed picture of a newspaper article from USA today – the headline says ‘Obama Wins’. The subheading reads like this: ‘shattering a racial barrier, senator from Illinois is voted president; Democrats register gains in House and Senate’. That’s from November 5, 2008. An African American man in the White House: What a truly remarkable thing. It very much felt like a season of optimism – where society was changing – culture moving forward.
12 years later – 2020 has arrived and it’s a very different political landscape both sides of the pond. We have left the EU and now begin endless renegotiations of Britain’s place in the new world order. Whether Brexit day was a cause for celebration or a cause for lament – things are certainly changing and the future is uncertain.
Over the past years I’ve found that a lot of conversations with neighbours and those at the school gates have touched on Brexit and to be honest, rarely positive. The optimism of the late 90s and 00’s has been very much replaced by distrust, frustration and angst.
How do we not breathe that in? I grew up within the home of a smoker. When you passive smoke – it really affects you – you can’t avoid it.
As disciples we are, to some degree, going to be affected by the cultural angst around us – the passive smoke – it shapes conversations and attitudes. But we need to be wise to not allow it to define us…
The good news is that today’s passages have something to say. The Colossian Christians were up against a number of challenges – too many to process now in this podcast. But the effect of the pervading culture; the confusion in the church about Christian teaching, left the Colossian church on the back foot.
When one is on the back foot – it’s a really insecure feeling. We have two options – the temptation is to ‘sort it’ ourselves – or to choose to trust God. We don’t know the precise details of the specific challenges facing the Colossian church – we can only work it out from Paul’s comments and inferences in his letter.
Colossian Christians were very aware of evil; the devil and his demonic powers. There was also a real and genuine belief in angels – and their role within the lives of Christians and their activity in the world around us. All good stuff… however, confusion had crept into the church – and the main effect of the confusion was to leave the Colossian believers questioning – just how powerful is Jesus really?
While people in this new decade in Sheffield may not be asking about angels and demons, they may be looking at rising violent crime, societal breakdown, climate change – changing weather systems, Brexit, American politics, Coronavirus – and ask ‘is there anyone pulling the strings behind all this stuff?’
Paul’s confident statement to the Colossians & to therefore to us is this: Jesus is the ‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.’
For the apostle Paul – Jesus is pulling the strings. He’s on the throne. While there may be weird stuff happening all around us – Jesus is doing his thing. For Paul, he reminds the Colossians – hey, Jesus spoke the whole of creation into being. He was there at the very start. He created the earth and the heavens and is working to renew all things.
Firstly, this whole thing around us – this beautiful city: those beautiful hills you can see around, the peak district – he did that. He made it. In fact he speaks it into being. He didn’t rock up for Christmas but has been around since the very beginning. He speaks creation into being. His words can create continents and people.
Paul’s point is simple – the world may be changing but he really is still on the throne. I’ll finish with one of my favourite Sandy Millar quotes: ‘Can I tell you a secret? The Lord reigns’.
We can’t control what happens in Westminster. But we can make sure our the state of our hearts is not conditioned by the media. That we heed Paul’s wisdom to the Colossian church – to remind ourselves just how powerful He really is.
Father we thank you that you reign. Help us to see you at work today! Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 1:15-20
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.