Image of the Invisible God

Who is Jesus? Colossians 1:15-20 reveals the grand mystery. Jesus is Supreme in all things. He is the Son of God, a relationship that bears mystery – yes. He is the image of the invisible God. By faith we come to understand Jesus as God incarnate. There is fullness – the expression of God in all fullness. While there is mystery, there is also revelation.

Lots of “alls” can be found in the book of Colossians. Jesus is Supreme over all things – Creation, heaven, earth, visible, invisible, thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities, the Church. As we dig into the mystery, the apostle Paul helps us to clarity various relationships – Jesus to His Father, Jesus to the Church, Jesus to eternal life, Jesus to redemption.

Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV) says, “And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

These verses highlight the great pivot point of the Gospel. This pivot is where we recognize the depth of our alienation and hostility to God, and then respond in faith to our Savior. As a former math teacher, I love the world of opposites, negatives, positives, what’s in a set and what’s not, what’s above and what’s below a graphed function – these are the 180-degree turns that the Gospel reminds me of visually. For believers, there is the constant reminder in scripture of the “before and after” and the “once you were…” And then comes the great pivot in the Gospel – “But…”

But now… But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24)…But God demonstrates His own love (Romans 5:8)…But God has put the body together (I Cor. 12:24)…But God in His grace gave it to Abraham through the promise (Galatians 2:27)…But God had mercy on him (Philippians 2:27)… All these represent a 180-degree, complete turnaround from being alienated, hostile, and evil to being holy, blameless, and above reproach in Jesus Christ. A total status change. A “180.”

The hinge, of course, is faith. Stable, steadfast, firm, not shifting – Faith. Faith in Him Who is Supreme in all things.

As you contemplate the “180,” this might be your prayer (taken from Valley of Vision, “The Spirit of Jesus”):

Because of Who Jesus is, “…May His comforts cheer me in my sorrows, His strength sustain me in my trials, His blessings revive me in my weariness, His presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness, His might establish me in peace and joy, His incitements make me ceaseless in prayer, His animation kindle in me undying devotion.”

By faith, I can understand the mystery of who Jesus is and can trust that His Supremacy covers all the “alls” in my life. After all, He is the image of the invisible God.

Clearing the Air

Mark 4:37-41 says, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ “

Several days ago, it was a temperate, low-humidity September day, I wondered why I didn’t need my sunglasses. Because the sun was definitely shining… (a puzzle). I later learned that the wildfire smoke from California had drifted eastward so much so that it smudged up the skies, reduced the brilliance of the sun, and added unusual coloration to our sunsets.

John Bacon, in a USA Today article, has recently reported that the West Coast fires have burned an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Sobering. Hard to imagine! But, this puts things into perspective.

Add this: drifting California smoke was high enough not to bother East Coast asthma-sufferers, but low enough to produce a cloudlike cover, subduing normal sunshine. Covid has been like those wildfires. A challenge the size of Connecticut! A subduer of normal sunshine! A squall that won’t die down. We mask-wearers long for breaths of clean, unobstructed air. Will it all clear someday?

On this same beautiful September day (2020), I sat around a table on a colonial town street, having a brown bag dinner with a group of lady friends. It was inspiring to see each other without the use of Zoom. In our new-normalizing, we enjoyed reflecting on the silver linings of Covid (yes there are some). I’d describe these silver linings as opportunities to do things differently. Outdoor dining has turned out to be a real treat. Using our patios and screen porches more at home is another. Not so much gas guzzling these days. Not many road trips. More walks and bike rides. Attention to things long forgotten due to busyness. Appreciating things previously taken for granted.

There is One true silver lining – the One who causes the wind and waves to obey Him. We need to clear the air…We need to remind ourselves of this timeless truth:

Matthew 6:26-30 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you — you of little faith?”

Take off the masks on your heart and mind. Breath in the clean air of God’s Truth. Nothing happens apart from His control. The winds obey Him. Nothing is suffered that He doesn’t sift. The waves obey Him. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. Have faith. Clear the air. See the silver linings.