Preliminary Thoughts from Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ and the Fragmented World

Friends,

What follows are some preliminary notes and observations I have made from my study of Colossians 1. They are presented as is: Rough, un-edited, un-refined. I like to sketch out ideas and see how they develop later as sermons begin to grow inside of me. The thoughts below center around what I see to be the main problem in the church: We have given up ground (read: the world) because we have, to a large degree, abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This notion of mine grows out of much reading and observations of the current streams of thought. Particularly helpful were some books by David F Wells (see my Bookspage) a book by Aijith Fernando The Supremacy of Christ and my observations taken from reading several blogs in the blogosphere over the last year or so. Of course, my practical experience being a local preacher in a small church and from Holy Scripture’s own testimony about the Supremacy of Christ has played a vital role too. Again, these are preliminary thoughts and observations and do no constitute a comprehensive exegesis of Colossians. For now, they are for your perusal and consideration. –jerry

I think our world is terribly fragmented and at the same time, terribly united. It is fragmented in the sense that everyone wants power and fights everyone for it. Everyone is vying for the same supremacy. There is no loyalty amongst those who are fighting for power and supremacy. It’s all about who has the best economy, who has the toughest army, who has the best supermodels. Worse, it is about who has the largest attendance, who has the most radical-welcome-everyone-without-regard-to-repentance-from-sin policies, biggest, fanciest, most modernized, electronic buildings. The point is, everything is a pedantic competition and sadly, the church is not exempt. But it is far more insidious than mere swimsuit competitions or praise band wars. This fragmentation is the work of a much more sinister enemy than we can imagine.

On the other hand, there is a frightening amount of unity amongst the world’s powers. The one unifying element to all of this hubris is the desperate and violent antagonism demonstrated against Christ and His Church—and believe me when I say that this is from within the church as well as without! (Outside the church, it involves persecution; inside, a lack of grace.) In their efforts and climb towards world supremacy, the world’s Supers (including church super powers) do all they can to eliminate that which is not merely the competition, but the very antithesis of their actions. Those world Supers are traveling a path that leads to a consolidation of power into the hands of a few, and the church must be eliminated for that to properly happen (if the Church is eliminated, they reason, then Christ too). Christ works against that through the true Church, His remnant, so that the world will be brought under the rule of One: Namely, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

Thus we see that Christ must reign. He must be supreme in all things. The world will eventually come under his complete rule. He reigns now (Ephesians 1-2, Revelation 4-5), but all has not been brought under his authority just yet. There are enemies that must be subdued. Part of the proclamation of the church is this very thing: We are to announce the Supremacy of Christ in all things and not merely give lip service to this Supremacy. We contend that Christ is supreme in all things and that it is only fools who fail to acknowledge this. We in the church live under this supremacy already; we are working to bring the rest of the world under the dominion of Christ as He has commissioned and sent us out as the Father sent Him. (John 20)

Our text will be the short letter called Colossians. This most helpful letter is, if any book is, a detailed exposition of the Supremacy of Christ. Such supremacy begins insistently with the church of which he is the Head. If Christ is not the Head of the Church, if His supremacy does not center on the church, then the world will show nothing but contempt. My point is that it seems the church has quite forgotten this and the world has taken full advantage. The Church has failed to properly and boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ which saves us and, as a result, the world has taken over and grown more and more hubristic. What I mean is that in relinquishing the message of Christ’s supremacy, the church has opened the door for others to usurp his rightful place. Thus we see the competition of the world’s powers for supremacy. The church must go back on the offensive and proclaim this message of Christ’s supremacy all over again and constantly. I think it is time to take back that ground we have given up to the world, that is, it is time to do what we are commissioned to do: Make disciples of the World by preaching the message that Christ has been given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28).

People mock this, but they just don’t understand the power of this assertion and truth. If this fact is true, and I am contending it is in agreement with Scripture, then even the church must give up it’s silly ideas about itself being a kingdom in an of itself. We belong to Christ not the other way around. We are heralds and we must announce this message to those still enslaved by the dominion of darkness.

We must preach Christ to the Nations, among the Nations. We must preach Christ alone. We must dispense with the idea that we should preach something other than Christ, and we must dispel the notion (among Christians) that the proclamation of the Gospel is meant to be something that wins us friends. A proper proclamation of the Gospel sets the church against the world. It does not win us friends, but makes us an enemy of the world Powers that pursue their own ambitions of supremacy. The Gospel is not to be preached so that it will win us friends, or make us popular, or to enrich the church (or the inhabitants of the church). The Gospel is preached so that ‘they may be ever hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving’ (Isaiah 6) The Message of the cross is foolishness, not friendship. The message of the cross is a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1-2). It is in no way meant to be popular—it is meant to be exactly what it is: The Word of God.

That is, it is God’s Word to us. We have no right to preach other than what is written.

No one in the history of the world has ever found the Word of God to be a friendly announcement. It grates against the very things this world stands for. The Word of God condemns the ways of man, the sin of the world, and Justifies God and God alone. The world has no desire to come under the rule, authority, and dominion of Christ. It prefers to remain in and under the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13). It is the church’s job to be the light that we are called into (Colossians 1:12). This is the real battle: Light vs Darkness. But we know who will win and it can only be Christ who is supreme.

It is my contention that until the church figures this out in America the church will continue to grow and shrink. There will be a flock of undernourished people living large and enjoying their best lives now because ‘they enjoy the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ Jesus says, they have their reward in full. The church will continue to shrink too as the true Church of Christ is abandoned by those who think it irrelevant because it clings tenaciously to the Word of Truth, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1). These are perilous times for the church. The fruits are already showing. I fear the church has already become irrelevant by trying desperately to be relevant.

I fear for many in the church; we have already suffered great loss.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

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