This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
15 He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is supreme over all creation, 16 because in connection with him were created all things — in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities — they have all been created through him and for him. 17 He existed before all things, and he holds everything together.
18 Also he is head of the Body, the Messianic Community — he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might hold first place in everything. 19 For it pleased God to have his full being live in his Son 20 and through his Son to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace through him, through having his Son shed his blood by being executed on a stake.
21 In other words, you, who at one time were separated from God and had a hostile attitude towards him because of your wicked deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in the Son’s physical body through his death; in order to present you holy and without defect or reproach before himself — 23 provided, of course, that you continue in your trusting, grounded and steady, and don’t let yourselves be moved away from the hope offered in the Good News you heard.
This is the Good News that has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven; and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.
Paul shows no knowledge of the story of the virgin birth of Jesus, but that does not stop him according Jesus Messiah a unique relationship with God. He asserts that Jesus is essential to the process of creation. In him are united, not only all human beings, but “all things”. How can we make sense of this?
The story of the virgin birth may be a help here, as it tells us that on the one hand, Jesus is the product of what we would call evolution-he is born of a womb, he is a mammal, his DNA is 99% the same as an orang-utan- but on the other hand, he is “God with us.” If we take seriously the process of evolution we see that it involves the creator in letting go of what he makes, initiating a development in which even the most infinitesimal particles are indeterminate and accident becomes part of God’s purpose. This is the process which has produced the earth and all its creatures, including every cell of the body and mind of Jesus Messiah. Nevertheless in this human being, the creator is pleased to dwell in his fullness. That indwelling cannot be explained, and certainly must not be explained in any way that lessens the complete humanity of Jesus. With this perspective we can make sense of the assertion that Jesus is the prototype and purpose of creation and that every “thing” and all life is related to him.
This means that the reconciliation he accomplishes is for all things and all creatures as well as human beings. The reconciling love declared by God in his son’s death on the stake is for all creation. Paul invites the believers to see the breaking down of barriers between Jew and Gentile is only a small part of a universal reconciliation.
This is a serious bit of theological exploration by Paul who wanted to relate his knowledge of Jesus Messiah to his faith in a creator God and his understanding of the cosmos. Perhaps also he wanted to leave no space in his world view for the kinds of magical/mystery religions that offered adherents cosmic maps and passwords for their journey into the afterlife. In any case, if the reconciliation offered in Jesus is larger than believers, it is also specifically designed for their transformation into God’s own holiness; and their participation in it is through their trust in the Good News which is being announced to all creation.
As I wrote in yesterday’s blog (1247), Paul’s vision is heavenly but he keeps his feet and those of the Community, on the ground. Participation in the mighty purposes of God requires trust, hope and communal loyalty in Colossae.
The doctrine of the fullness of God “dwelling” (Greek: kat-oikesai) in Jesus in whom the cosmos holds together ought to encourage believers to revise their views of ecology which gets its name from the Greek oikos, a dwelling. The world is not God, but it is God’s creation, fashioned, held together and reconciled in Jesus. The way we treat it should reflect that faith.
For further reflections on ecology see: