Skip to main content

The Glue of Life


The film The Grey tells the story of a group of oil drillers. One day they are on the way to Alaska when the their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. Eight people survive only to discover that they have just walked into in a territory full of wolves who hunt down human beings for food. The wolves begin to pick them out one by one until towards the end of the movie, the only person left is our main hero played by Liam Neeson.

Just when we think our hero has finally survived the wild wolves, he stumbles right into their den! So in that final dramatic scene, as our hero looks up to the heavens, he starts shouting arrogant obscenities at God and at the same time he is asking God for help. He tells God to prove he is not phony by saving his life! There is no response from heaven! Just silence. So our hero, says to himself, after an expletive, "I'll just do it myself".

And you guessed it, in typical Hollywood style, our hero makes a last stand against the leading Alpha Wolf and kills it with a broken bottle! The message of the film it is that life is a struggle surrounded the wolves of despair. Sadly, you cannot trust God to help you. God has left you in a Darwinian struggle on your own with the wolves! That message found in many films (e.g. Bourne films) stands in sharp contrast to what the Bible teaches us:

“and in Him all things hold together”
COLOSSIANS 1:17

Scientists tell us about a wonderful part of the human body called laminin. Without getting into all the technical jargon of molecular biology, laminin is the cell adhesion molecule. The human body is organized around various types of cells, each of which has a different job or purpose. But what holds them all together so that the body does not fall apart? Answer: laminin. It is the glue that keeps the core elements of our body together so we can live and function in the way God designed.

That is exactly the image Paul has in mind. Jesus is the lamin of the entire universe. He holds it all together! Who is this Jesus? Paul describes Jesus prior to that statement. He says, “...in him all things were created...all things have been created through him and for him” [Colossians 1:16]. Jesus is the Creator God, supreme over time and space. This Jesus did not just create the world and walk away, he continues to actively sustain all creation.

Notice Paul says Jesus holds it “together”. There is sense of orderly fashion to it. Jesus is not sustaining chaos, he sustains the university in a way that allows life to flourish! Jesus is the sustainer of all life. Indeed, by holding all things together, it means that He is intimately involved in every part of creation because if He is not in touch with all of them the whole thing will collapse. So it means that he understands and is concerned about everything.

There are parts of the created order that looks "wasted" from our the scientific vantage point. No human being or intelligent life thrives there. Many will never be visited by man. This verse tells us those parts matter to God because he holds them together. Philosophers wonder whether a "tree falling in the forest makes a sound" when no one is there to listen. This verse says it does make a noise because God is always there to hear the sound! He is the one who holds the tree and the forest together!

It is not just the natural world Jesus holds together. Jesus holds the economic, social and political system in the world and all human beings together. This means we can be sure that the world is not falling apart. In the end the doom merchants who tell us the world is out of control are wrong because Jesus holds all things together. The environmentalists who tell us that "mother nature" will wipe out wipe out all life are also wrong. Jesus holds all things together and He will never stop!

This should bring comfort to each and everyone of us. Your life is not falling apart. No matter what you are going through, it is not disintegrating into meaningless and oblivion because at the fundamental level it is held together by Jesus. Our lives look like they are falling apart only when we fail to look to Jesus the sustainer of all life. The moment we repent and turn to Jesus everything in life brought into its proper perspective.

Jesus holding the world together is what ultimately gives meaning and harmony in our lives. Where else will you find meaning? Human being tend to seek purpose for their existence by looking deep inside, we look for cohersion by getting hold of ourselves by our bootstraps. Mariah Carey’s famous hit song of the 1990s, captures this yearning when she sings:

There's a hero if you look inside your heart/ You don't have to be afraid of what you are / There’s an answer if you reach into your soul/ And the sorrow that you know will melt away…”

The truth is that all of us have tried to look deep inside and we don’t like what we find there, and of course it never brings the ultimate meaning we long for. You cannot find meaning and harmony by looking deep inside, it is found outside of ourselves. Jesus is ultimately the one who holds all things together so it is to him we must look for meaning and cohesion.

This truth of Jesus as the sustainer of life ultimately challenges how we think about ourselves. We tend to veer between extremes. Sometimes we think we are the centre of the cosmos. We live for ourselves as if we hold the world together and can make things happen! We see this idea of man as everything particularly in eastern religions and western secular thought, which puts economic man first and everything second. Everything is about maximising our utility or satisfaction.

We encounter the other extreme when life goes wrong. We start thinking we are living a meaningless existence. The atheist and nihilist worldviews that inspired the movie Grey echo such futility. The truth is that one doesn't need to an atheist to feel like that. We have all felt meaninglessness when circumstances of life humble us and leave us empty.

In contrast to both extremes, the Bible gives us ultimate meaning by attaching our hope for meaning and cohesion to someone eternal. Some who holds us together - a mind and a purpose. This man who is God, Jesus Christ. As we reflect deeper on this Jesus as the sustainer, we see He also challenges the personal narratives we craft for ourselves : "I am valueless", “just a cog in the machine of life", "what I think does not matter"! In fact the you do matter to God because Jesus holds your life together. You matter because Jesus has made you matter!

So in the end the question we need to ask ourselves is this - are we looking to this Jesus who holds life together. Why did Paul insert these words in the middle of a letter to this young church at Colossae? Has he gone off track? No, he is saying to them and us that your life may be challenging and messy but Jesus holds it together! He is saying the key to enduring life's big challenges is to look to Jesus who holds life together! If you are a follower of Jesus, you have not been delivered by a weak God, you have come to a big God who holds every cell in your body together! Life may seem like Liam Neeson's pack of wolves but God created the wolves and he hold you and them together. He wants us to see life from this vantage point.

Series Posts :

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Christian and Technology, A Review

The central argument of John Fresko’s  The Christian  and Technology  is that technology is a double-edged sword that requires cautious and intentional use. Continuous uncritical use of technology erodes hunger for the Word of God, makes us self-centred and turns our useful devices into idols. The book intends to promote proper use of technology by encouraging us to dig into our hearts to see whether Christ so fills us that nothing can drag us away from him. Fresko believes there is no need for us to flee from technology or become Luddites because technology is value neutral. It is not in of itself good or bad. Instead, we must focus on carefully evaluating how we think about and use technology. This necessarily requires us  not only to understand the relevant technology, but also understand ourselves. A key part of this is recognising that we struggle with technology because we lack contentment in Christ. The book explores explores six different technologies. I think the most fascina

I am what I am by Gloria Gaynor

Beverly Knight closed the opening ceremony of the Paralympics with what has been dubbed the signature tune of the Paralympics. I had no idea Ms Knight is still in the singing business. And clearly going by the raving reviews she will continue to be around. One media source says her performance was so electric that "there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen as she sang the lyrics to the song and people even watching at home felt the passion in her words" . The song was Gloria Gaynor's I am what I am . Clearly not written by Gloria Gaynor but certainly musically owned and popularized by her. It opens triumphantly: I am what I am / I am my own special creation / So come take a look / Give me the hook or the ovation / It's my world that I want to have a little pride in / My world and it's not a place I have to hide in / Life's not worth a damn till you can say I am what I am The words “I am what I am” echo over ten times in the song. A bold declaration that she

Today I Learned

The puritan John Miles (1621-1683)   founded the first Baptist Church in Wales. He then emigrated to America shortly after the Act of Uniformity (1662) when 2,000 ministers were ejected from the Established Church. With a large proportion of his church, Miles settled at a new Swansea, about ten miles from Providence in Rhode Island. The church grew in face of persistent opposition.   Once, when Miles was brought before the  magistrates on some charge, he asked for a Bible. He then quoted Job 19:28 - Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me ? (KJV). He stopped there and sat down. The court was so convicted by the content and context of the passage that their cruelty gave way to kindness. ( Source : An Introduction to the Baptists, Erroll Hulse)