“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Only a year after his conversion, Charles Wesley gave to the world a Christmas carol loved by many: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Wesley’s song is filled with such rich theology one might wonder if the young convert had immersed himself in the Colossians Christ Hymn. His heart sings of “God and sinners reconciled,” “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,” and “Hail the incarnate Deity.” In such lines Wesley captures the essence of the Christ Hymn: the Creator entering His creation to bring the creation to completion. In the beginning God created “all things” through Christ, so that through Christ, God reconciles “all things”. God does not leave His creation wanting. Not only by creating us, but also by becoming one of us, Christ raises us up into God’s life of love.
In today’s passage we see how the eternal God takes on human flesh at Bethlehem in order to bring creation to harmonious completion. As the Alpha and the Omega, Christ joins heaven to earth, the invisible to the visible. In the lowly manger God shows Himself on our side in His story of cosmic redemption. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). Through the flesh and blood man Christ Jesus, God brings together all things through the blood of the cross.
Paul writes the Colossians Christ Hymn while under house arrest in Rome awaiting possible execution. Twenty-four hours a day Paul is chained to two Roman soldiers of the Emperor’s Praetorian Guard. Yet Paul writes eagerly about Christ’s final victory, well aware of the present darkness, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces rallied against humanity (Ephesians 6:12). Though in chains, Paul writes, knowing “the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9). Stone walls do not a prison make as Paul glimpses history’s glorious fulfillment. New Testament scholar James Dunn writes in awe of what God is bringing about through Christ and His Gospel:
“The vision is vast. The claim is mind-blowing. It says much for the faith of these first Christians that they should see in Christ’s death and resurrection quite literally the key to resolving the disharmonies of nature and the inhumanities of humankind, that the character of God’s creation and God’s concern for the universe in its fullest expression could be so caught and encapsulated for them in the cross of Christ.” (James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon)
Scripture says that God sent His Son into the world, not to judge the world, but to reconcile all things to Himself and make peace. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). In today’s scripture we see the scope of Christ’s reconciling mission embraces not just sinners, but reaches out to include “all things, whether on earth or in heaven.”
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul again takes up the grand scope of God’s reconciliation through Christ:
“With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10).
In “the fullness of time” God will, in Christ, mend and renew all that is broken. There will be complete harmony in God’s new heavens and new earth. We will see then that everything fits. I like the words of a Christian friend who says regarding future events: “I’m not a pre-millennialist, a-millennialist, or post-millennialist. I’m a pan-millenialist! With God, everything is going to ‘pan’ out!” “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Revelation 21:4). We will join in singing with the saints and angels the lines of the old carol: “No more let sins and sorrows grow,/Nor thorns infest the ground;/He comes to make his blessings flow/Far as the curse is found.” (Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World”)
- What fears might you have that the world is spinning out of control?
- What is God’s promise about the future? How might that change your life today?