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Big Questions, Bigger Jesus

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him  (Colossians 1:16)
I have always had a strange relationship with these few words in the Bible. They generate a weird combination of comfort and concern. The comforting comes from the reminder that Jesus is a Big God! In a world where we appear at the mercy of aircraft pilots, morally bankrupt politicians and Jihadism, it is important to remember that Jesus is actually the one who is truly in charge of all things.

This appears to have been the main purpose Apostle Paul inserted these words at the start of his letter. Followers of Jesus at Colossae were a young church grappling with many challenges. So when Paul begins his letter he is  keen to pray that their young faith may keep growing in the knowledge of God and may endure against temptations, sufferings and false teaching that abounds everyday.

To reassure them Paul reminds them that they serve a Big Jesus! They can take comfort that Jesus who is now their Lord is the Lord of the entire universe. This Jesus is the first rank over and above all things. He is number one by virtue of being 100 percent God and 100 percent man.

What is unsettling is what Paul then says next : “for by him all things were created”. Just in case you don’t get it, he repeats with new details : "all things were created through him and for him”. The obvious point is that all things were created by Jesus. 

The phrase “through him” means God has no dependent. It is not like God pressed the button and some other metaphysical machine created everything. There no one else besides himself! Such power! Jesus is the author and creator of all things! In other words Jesus is the one who brought them into existence. The word “by” means “by means of” or “in”. The total mechanism is Jesus. It means everything has Jesus’ signature on it. Say that again? Everything has Jesus’ signature on it!

The idea of "all things" is uncomfortable. I like to think that Jesus only created things I consider “good” in my definition. I like the idea that Jesus is the Creator of the original perfect universe. But I am less comfortable that Jesus is the Creator of the world as it stands now. I like the idea that I am the creator of my world and Jesus only created the beginning. But that is not the God of Paul. The Bible is saying all things, even the Devil are created by God. 

This immediately brings us into the problem of evil and the sovereignty of God! Is God the creator of disease? How do we reconcile that God is not the author of sin, as Apostle James tells us, with what Paul says that Jesus is the creator of all things ? As if that question is not unsettling enough, what is even more puzzling is that the more we read the entire passage, the more Paul does not seem bothered by the question. For Paul it appears two seemingly bigger issues make my "unsettling question" recede in the background. 

The first bigger point to Paul is that Jesus is the Creator of all that exists. This means that everything in existence has a beginning. This means that all things have a past and trace their origins to the moment of creation. This also means that all things have a beginner and owner who created them.  Paul says this beginner and owner is Jesus of Nazareth! Paul is rightly more concerned with a far important question of who owns the universe than the personal opinions of the temporary tenants (us) in the universe! 

The second bigger point to Paul is that that why things exist is more important than the rights of the things that exist.Why did God create the world?  Paul's answer is that it was created for Jesus alone! This first of means that the entire creation is a gift from God to God. It would appear that creation has relational relevance with the God-head. God created it for God. What gift is worth giving God? Paul says, the gift is creation! Somehow the finite is meaningful to the infinite!

The  fact that everything exists for Jesus means that things don’t exist purposeless. They fulfill a certain cosmic significance to them that only Jesus truly knows. Why does the sun shine? For him! Why is there water on Europa? For him! Why so many planets with no life? For him! Why is there suffering in the world? For him!  These answers may unsettle us, but Paul is clear that Jesus sits at the epicenter as the very purpose of creation. Everything finds meaning and significance in him. 

The central point is that Jesus is not only the purpose of creation but also the goal of creation. All things finds consummation in him! If everything exists for him then everything is somehow working towards his purpose. I may have questions around why a particular evil exists, but Paul says evil or good, it is all working towards the benefit of Jesus. In other words whatever one makes of the problem of evil, what is clear is that whether we think it  is good or bad in our eyes is irrelevant because existence is not really about us, it is for the pleasure of Jesus.

Let us put it bluntly: all human beings are ultimately created for the benefit of God. We can debate the extent of free will, but the Bible is emphatic that the purpose and goal of creation is for Jesus. We exist not for ourselves but for Him. Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, you don't fundamentally exist for yourself even though you make "choices" solely for you. In the end, you cannot escape the fact that your life is designed for the purpose of another!

Therefore there is a sense in which human beings are peripheral to life's ultimate purpose, but that is actually a wonderful thing! Human beings are a gift from God to God. We are valued by God. This is indeed the ultimate grounding for human worth. We have value because we are created by God for God. God made you for God. Of course we can say that trees and rocks, but what is of course even more amazing is that God gone further than simply making you as a gift, He has died for you on the cross.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, coming back to what Paul is saying here. There most important point to remember is that Paul is more concerned with the deeper structure of the universe and who is at the heart of it, namely Jesus  than placing himself at the heart of existence. Paul has such a big image of Jesus that he is not going round writing theses about “the problem of evil”. 

To Paul the only problem is the problem of grace! How can this Big Jesus,  who called worlds into existence and for whom all things exist, even bother about me? Casting Crown echo this question in their song Who am I? 

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
When I ponder this question, I always find that my original uneasiness about these verses goes away. I find that all my fears are answered in the simple statement, "all things were created". All things have a beginning. All things have a beginner. All things have a owner. The beginner and owner is God who created it all in Jesus. 

This Jesus has laid down His life on the cross. He has taken death and sin on Himself and given me an eternal union with Him. Because I am eternally joined  to Jesus, I am in touch with the Lord of All Creation! In the words of Casting Crown:

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

This truth gives me hope for living! It surely gave the colossians Christians hope! Young followers of Jesus facing a hard time. Paul says hold, persevere, all the things you are experiencing is for Jesus Christ. He created all things and all things are working together for His purpose. All things belong to Jesus and therefore all things are yours in Him!

Series Posts :
Lessons from Colossae : Jesus is our God (1:15a) 
Lessons from Colossae : Jesus is our Head (1:15b)  

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2015


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