Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Image of the invisible God

 Read Colossians 1

We discussed before who might be with Paul at this time.  From this letter, we see that Timothy is with him as he writes to the church in Colossae.  He isn’t there the entire time as Paul later writes two letters to Timothy, but Paul often uses the term we in his letters.

This time it includes Timothy.  It might have also included others who came to Christ on his journey to Rome.  There may have been some come to Jesus moments that went along with the shipwreck on that trip.  We might have meant part of Caesar’s guard that had come to Christ.  It could have been others who came to see Paul and carried letters and messages to him and for him.

Perhaps there were those from the church in Rome who spent time with him.  He had written this church about 5 years earlier.  We sometimes refer to that letter as the Gospel According to Paul.

In any case, Paul was imprisoned in Rome and continued to minister to those around him in person and to those elsewhere by messenger and letter.

In the case of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had never been to this church.  He did not start it.  It grew up out of the outreach of the church in Ephesus. The gospel was on the move even though many of the original apostles had been exiled, put to death, or soon would be executed for their faith.

Commentaries tell us that this letter has more Christology than the other New Testament writings.  What’s that mean?  It talks more about the central and governing nature of Christ to our relationship with God and each other.

For now, let’s think about one of those Christ-centered themes.

He is the image of the invisible God.

How can we see the image of something or someone who is invisible? 

We are told that God is Spirit; yet Jesus came in the flesh.   Jesus said that if you have seen him, then you have seen the Father.  He told his disciples this before he went to the cross.

After the resurrection, he told Thomas, you believe because you see.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Jesus made an analogy with the wind and the Spirit when Nicodemus came to see him.  You can’t see the wind, but you know it’s there.

We understand what follows in this chapter.  Jesus is supreme.  He is over all things.  He was there at the beginning.  The fullness of the Father dwells in the Son.  He was the first born from the dead. Through him, all things are reconciled. Through him we are redeemed.

We get those concepts.  We embrace that theology.  But how do we see what is invisible?  We were not there two millennia ago. We have not seen, yet we believe.

But how do we see the image of the invisible God?

We are told that God is love. Jesus—God in the flesh—is the ultimate manifestation of that love.

But how do we see this invisible God?  By obeying his command to love one another

Paul is writing to a church that did not see Jesus or did not hear the gospel from one of the original apostles.  He could have been writing to us.

We are told in Hebrews to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We can see Jesus no more than we can see the invisible God in which we trust, so what are we seeing?

It’s love.  It’s love for God and love for one another.  It’s God’s love manifest for us in the blood of Jesus. 

If you want to see God, see Jesus, or see the Spirit, you must respond to the grace that you know in love. 

Love for those you call friends and love for those who might just be your enemies.

Love for those most like you and for those least like you.

Love for those who grew up in the church and for those who rebelled against God and the church.

Christ died for all.  If you want to see Christ who is the image of the invisible God, you must have eyes to see a creation that Christ reconciled to himself.  Our carnal eyes cannot see this.  Our human nature continues to judge, but if we will take on a Christ nature, we will have eyes to see.

Want to see God?

Want to see Jesus?

Respond to God’s mercy and grace in love and you will see that which cannot be seen by carnal eyes.

Respond to God’s mercy and grace by living a life of love and you will have eyes to see the image of the invisible God.


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