Incarnation Song – Colossians 1:1-17
In verses 15-18 we have another great hymn of the faith which may or may not have originated with St. Paul. It is strikingly similar to Revelation 4:11 which the creatures in heaven are singing, so it’s probably a good idea to get used to it while still here on earth!
Paul sings and asks us to sing with him. His “song” of verses 15-20 is actually the last of three movements in Paul’s Christian concerto and forms the crescendo. His movements are arranged according to a reversed chronology or causality. He begins with an amazing prayer of petition for the Colossians, asking that in the future, God would make them walk worthy of Him. Paul then proceeds to thanksgiving, but thanksgiving is based on the past good things that God has already given. He finishes with his song of praise for who God is, which is an ever-present reality.
Putting things in their opposite order, the order of causality, we would begin with knowing who God is, for it is from the Person of God that His Creation, Redemption, and future blessings all flow. Because God is who He is (loving, merciful, powerful, etc.), He has qualified us to be partakers of his inheritance of the saints in light, which for the believer is a past reality that we must thank God for. Based both on who God is and what He has done, we ask Him to continue to bless us so that we might be able to walk worthy of the Lord who has qualified us to partake of His inheritance and who has, from His Person, loved us from the beginning.
These three things: petition, thanksgiving, and praise are all intimately connected, as are the future, the past, and the present, because the God who loves so much and is so powerful that He created us is the same God who redeemed us and who will continue to bless us in our life in His Presence. This passage is rich in Christian food that we can only properly meditate on one section – the part about who Jesus Christ is. It is this section that is the source of all our reasons to thank God and all our hope of petitioning Him. If we get this section wrong, as some who call themselves Christians are doing in our day, then we will get everything else wrong as well.
Who’s ready to sing with Paul?
Verse 15 contains one of the delicious paradoxes of life in Jesus Christ: “He is the image of the invisible God.” Some of us have heard this phrase enough that maybe it’s stopped jarring and shaking us. What a shame! On the surface of it, it makes no sense. How can you be the image or copy of something that has no image?
This is the mystery of the Incarnation, God made man. How can God who is invisible become man who is visible? More incomprehensible to my puny mind is the question, “How can the all-powerful, all-glorious Creator squeeze Himself into a body like mine?” Like Job, all we can do is shut our mouths and behold, before such imponderables.
By this Jesus Christ, who became a part of His creation (talk about blowing my little mind!), all things were created. When you behold a baby, remember that Jesus Christ created him or her. When you gaze at the celestial objects in the sky, remember who put them there and who knows their secret names. Even the angelic beings listed in verse 16 are mere creatures. Whether heavenly or earthly beings, whether visible or invisible, all things were created by and for Jesus Christ, to whom be praise forever and ever. Amen!
“In him all things consist.” I believe that this means much more than just that Jesus Christ created the world. I believe it means that it is only because He actively sustains that world that it continues to have its existence. If it were not for the sustaining power of the Word, constantly breathing life into the world, I believe that suns would lose their grasp on their satellites. The thermonuclear power of the universe’s greatest suns would all evaporate as fusion was shut down cold. Cells would forget why they were crammed together into a living community, and atoms would silently explode. All of the four so-called fundamental forces of the world – the strong and weak forces, electromagnetic force, and gravitational force would all whimper and die. And then nothing but God Himself would exist.
But things do exist because that is the way Jesus Christ wants it. When He created, He created with a divine purpose, and that purpose was intimately connected with Who He Is. All things were created not only by Him but also for Him. The purpose of every thing that Jesus Christ holds together is to give glory to Him. We, as humans who alone are made in the image of the invisible God, have a special place in this glory. It is we humans alone who have been qualified by this same Jesus Christ to be partakers of His inheritance because we are partakers of Him, who created all things.
Therefore, we sing songs of praise; therefore we receive all things with thanksgiving; and therefore we have boldness to come before Him and ask for all knowledge and wisdom and that we might be made fruitful in every good work, strengthened with the might of Him who created all, according to His glorious power.
Prayer: All praise be to You, Jesus Christ, because You are the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation. For You are the One Who was, Who is, and Who is to come, and therefore You are worthy to receive all my praise, thanksgiving, and prayers. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
- What are the things in life that most make you want to sing?
- Make it a point to sing your favorite hymn(s) today, loudly and lustily.
Resolution: I resolve to praise God throughout the day today. I resolve to sing at least one hymn of praise of Him sometime today, and more, according to the joy that is within me.