I’m broken and so are you, but there’s One who offers hope for a new and full life (Colossians 1:15–23)
If you’re like me, you’re probably aware of your own brokenness.
I’ve chased after things that I shouldn’t have, which, even when I reached them, left me feeling unfulfilled. And I’ve treated people in ways that I’m ashamed of. As I approach my fifties, I’m acutely aware of the many times I’ve desired and longed for the wrong things, or treated people (including people who love me) poorly.
I see a lot of joy and happiness among my friends and neighbours. But I also see a lot of brokenness among us—in our relationships, families, businesses, politics, churches, and institutions.
I’m broken and so are you, but the good news is that there’s hope for a new and full life.
We were created to glorify and worship the one holy and eternal God, and to enjoy relationship with him (and with his creation and his people).
Yet this desire for worship and intimacy is often perverted, and leads to brokenness.
We were created to worship. When we don’t worship Jesus Christ, we direct our adoration and gaze toward a host of other things.
We worship control and power.
We worship change and mobility.
We worship privacy and over exposure.
We worship money and prosperity.
We worship accomplishments and status.
We worship competition and free enterprise.
We worship individuality and autonomous expression.
We worship positivity and happiness.
We worship utility and practicality.
We worship sexuality and beauty.
We worship our children and our legacy.
We worship nation and patriotism.
We worship freedom and choice.
We worship safety and borders.
We worship image and brand and new media.
We worship experience and distraction.
Yet all this is misdirected and broken worship. It never satisfies.
We were created for intimacy, and for the holiness that arises out of intimacy with a holy God. For those of us who are Christians, we are called by God to discipleship to Jesus Christ as an expression and revelation of divine-human intimacy and holiness. When we don’t connect deeply with God (and with his creation and his people) we direct our desires and passions in self-destructive and other-destructive ways. Our lack of intimacy with a holy God leads to broken relationships and shattered integrity.
We pursue power and control in our relationships.
We confuse religious patriotism with Christian discipleship.
We sanction violence and manipulation.
We embrace exceptionalism instead of humility.
We foster disunity and division.
We cultivate racism.
We exploit vulnerable people.
We indulge in pornography.
We entrench sexism and gender inequality.
We shun those who are different from us (sexually, politically, racially, religiously, etc.)
We close our hearts to refugees and immigrants.
We abuse the earth and the poor.
We exclude the disabled.
We allow gender-based violence and child sexual abuse.I’m broken & so are you, but the good news is that there’s hope for new life. Click To Tweet
Yet, the good news is that there is an answer to this broken worship and intimacy. It is in repentance and in the worship of the Son of God. And it is in restored relationship to him and his people.
In Colossians 1:15–23, Paul describes who Jesus is and why we should worship him. Paul also explains what Jesus has achieved and how we should respond.
Instead of worshipping other lesser things (that never satisfy and that easily become obsessions), restored worship is about turning our hearts and eyes to Jesus the Messiah.
Verses 15–20 are probably an ancient and poetic song that describes the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
The ancient Christians would have sung this song together, reminding each other of who Jesus is, what he has done, and why they should worship him alone.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” He isn’t an image of God or merely a reflection of who God is. Jesus is the image of God. He is one with God and he shows us who God is. Jesus existed before the creations of the heavens and the earth, and he has primacy over all of creation. He created all things and holds all things together. “All things have been created through him and for him.”
Too often, we desire and worship lesser things. The church is as guilty of this as any other group of people. These gods include political power, patriotic hope, cultural status, national leaders, secular philosophies, progressive or conservative ideologies, and more. All these gods will disappoint. They are cold hard stone, unresponsive to our human predicament, and unable to offer us healing and salvation and hope. They are all idols—lesser gods that turn our eyes away from the Son of God.
But in those moments, we must remember that, “Jesus is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy.” Jesus is the supreme Lord of the cosmos and the head of the church.
The fullness of God and of life is found only in Jesus Christ. Through his life and death and resurrection he reconciled us to God and to each other. “For God was pleased to have all the fullness dwell I 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.”
As we turn to the worship of Jesus Christ we look to the one who offers us healing and reconciliation and peace and hope.
But we don’t just embrace restored worship—we experience restored relationship.
That relationship grows out of our worship and out of what Jesus Christ has already achieved for us.
Instead of alienation, isolation, loneliness, hostility, and fear (all products of misdirected worship and broken relationship), Jesus offers us life, and life to the full. He reconciles us to God. We experience a depth of intimacy that only he can offer. And in doing so, he helps us enter restored relationships with creation, with humanity, and with his church.
Paul says that this restored relationship leads to peace and holiness and freedom and perseverance and hope.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
But notice the importance of remaining in the faith and clinging to the hope and truth of the gospel.
Christians are passionate about many things, which is a good thing. Many issues deserve our passionate and courageous response—politics, race, gender, sexuality, poverty, the environment, and more. But our first passion must be for Jesus and for his gospel—all our other passions must flow out of this first and essential passion.
The gospel is astonishing! The gospel is the story of the triune God working through the story of Israel to save all humanity. And the gospel is the story of God bringing that saving work to completion in the saving story of Jesus, and in his Lordship over the whole world and all created things. And the gospel is the invitation to all people to respond and enter this marvelous work of God in history in Jesus Christ. This story must capture out hearts, minds, and passions!
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 tells us that the gospel is “of first importance.” “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
How does this gospel shape our lives, communities, beliefs, and passions? “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Paul says that it is in this gospel that we discover true worship and restored relationship.
It is in the supremacy of the Messiah of God that we find satisfying worship, restored intimacy, fresh hope, and a new and full life.In the Messiah we find true worship, restored intimacy, fresh hope, full life. Click To Tweet
Dr Graham Hill is the Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project – www.theglobalchurchproject.com. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and 3 other books.
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