DEVELOPING JESUS-DEPENDENCY – Pete Bauer
This sermon was preached on May 4th, 2014, at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship. To listen to the audio, just click on this link – Col 1C-3.
This morning we want to finish the poem in Colossians 1:15-18. We began, back in February, by talking about how Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and yet how we tend to make separations in our minds between Jesus and the Father and ourselves. Last week we talked about the great Kingdom movement of redemption, through which Jesus will change and redeem every aspect of this world. This week, we want to finish the poem by taking about how Jesus must have the supremacy in everything, and particularly in our faith.
Jesus Must Have the Supremacy in Everything.
Paul ends this poem with the words, “so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” In other words, this faith that we have, that we practice, that we believe, is about Jesus…
- Who is the image of the invisible God – the exact representatives of the Father’s purposes.
- Who is the redeemer whose plan of redemption encompasses the whole creation.
- Who is the beginning and the inheritor of the new creation (which we will see below).
The focus of our faith is Jesus–and in him we have all the privileges and power of new life. The early church believed this to such an extent that they began to be insulted with the name “Christian,” which meant, literally, “Little Jesus Christs.” They embraced that name as an excellent description of who they were and used it as a title of honor. This mindset is what Paul desires for his readers when he says that Jesus is, “the head of the body, the church.”
Becoming Jesus Dependent: We have seen how, as Christians, we are to understand the Father and his purposes based on the teaching and life and work of Jesus Christ. We have seen how, as Christians, we are called to see all of history and creation in the context of God’s great plan of redemption. Now we want to see that, as Christians, we are called to subject the understanding of the transformation and hope of our lives to Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Creating a New Change Inside Us.
Jesus Began Resurrection Life: “he is the beginning… from among the dead” Resurrection began a new kind of being in this world. The goal of our faith is not to go back to being like Adam or Eve were in Eden. In Jesus something new happened–not reanimation–not return to innocence–but a new thing.
- Jesus did not win back the innocence of Adam so that we could live without awareness of sin–in which case the spiritual life would be about perfect innocence.
- Jesus did not simply begin a political movement that was about treating people better and doing the right thing–in which case spirituality would be about the positions we take.
- Jesus did not physically change the DNA of our bodies in a way that could be understood of manipulated by people.
What Jesus began, by dying physically and rising from the dead physically, was to offer human beings a connection with himself that creates a mysterious, inner-being (see Rom.7:22), change, in which our inner selves, (souls, spirits) are connected and influenced through a relationship of obedient love with the resurrected Jesus.
Have Faith in the Process of Transformation: This inner transformation becomes the focus of our lives, despite the fact that we are pulled in many different directions: political concerns, the economy, our living situations (health, affluence, family relationships, friendships), issues of sin in our lives. These things seek to dominate our focus and to become the core of our spiritual lives.
Yet the process of resurrection life in connection with Jesus Christ is meant to be supreme, who gives life to our inner being, regardless of what is happening to our around us. This inner-becoming, transformation, is what is truly happening to us! This is Paul’s perspective… “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor.4:16-18)
Prepare for the New Heavens and Earth.
Jesus Is The Resurrection: “and [he is] the firstborn from among the dead,”
The word, “firstborn”, refers to the one who will inherit not only title and property, but authority. Jesus is the one who has inherited and has authority over resurrection. This is to say that Jesus has the authority and power to create, from among the dead, resurrection.
Remember what this means. As we saw last week, Jesus is the redeemer of the creation, of the souls of people, whose plan of redemption is being worked out in the world–has been completed and sealed by his resurrection. Resurrection is Jesus’ plan and he is the one who resurrects the dead–who alone can resurrect the dead to immortality, redeem the creation, heal society and individuals.
Jesus is the Bridegroom and Hope: The point of the resurrection, however, is not just escape from death–but a wedding. The healing of society and of individuals–morally, emotionally, physically, politically, etc. is something that can only ever finally happen to those who are finally united to Jesus Christ. All that this means is mystery. But we can at least say this: Our hope is not merely to escape death and be alive again–our hope is to be united with Jesus–to be made alive because we are eternally joined to him–not as squatters who have somehow found our way into the new heavens and earth–there to do our own thing.
We do not understand the new creation. Many believers think of and hope for life and enjoyment and the restoration of the things they want without much, if any, reference to Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus Christ is the source of life and joy in the resurrection. He is the one whose presence will make us truly alive and free and joyful. Without him the new creation (if it could exist at all), would be empty, or perhaps terrifying (see Heb.13:18-28).
Continually Turn/Return to Jesus: If, then Jesus is both the source/beginning of our resurrection life, and the hope/destiny of our resurrection life–then we should always be turning to him and returning to him when we go astray. This turning and returning is a matter of…
- pouring out the issues of our lives to him in prayer.
- hearing and reading the word in order to know what Jesus is like.
- worshipping Jesus and praising him for who he is and what he has done.
- fellowshipping with his family–other believers who have his Spirit in them.
- expressing what Jesus has done for us and our hope to be united with him.
- responding to his teachings and example with obedient love.
- proclaiming his death and resurrection through the communion meal.
This morning we are taking the communion meal. We do so because Jesus has begun the process of new resurrection life in us–and because communion expresses our hope and destiny to be united with Jesus Christ through eternity.
We have often failed to live Jesus-dependent lives. This morning, through communion, Christ gives us opportunity to return and to set our eyes on him as the author and finisher of our faith.