Our Concept of God; May 20, 2019

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

The description of Christ from verse 15 through verse 20 is profound and worthy of deep meditation. Because it is so deep, it benefits from reading different translations. Theologically, I prefer the Japanese to the English in this verse: “He was born before everything that was created.” To me that makes it clearer that Jesus isn’t just part of creation, which the rest of the passage confirms. The haunting song from Jesus Christ Superstar, sung by Mary Magdalene, I Don’t Know How to Love Him, illustrates a problem that many people have with Jesus, when it says, “He’s just a man.” The idea of a human baby preexisting as Divinity before taking up residence in a womb is offensive, because it totally shatters all our human concepts and constructs and proclaims God as God, able to do anything at all, even – and perhaps especially – things that violate human logic and even the laws of physics. Actually, it’s not just people who resist God who have trouble with this. Even most Christians have a far too limited concept of God, because they try to make Him fit human categories, essentially making Him like them, instead of realizing what an incredible miracle it is that we are created in any way like Him. (Genesis 1:27) This is a struggle we all have, actually, because we are finite creatures trying to grasp an infinite God. The good news is that God starts with us where we are and leads us to Himself, if we will allow Him to do so. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit, revealing God to us and breaking down all the barriers we put up in our minds of one sort and another. When we seek to open up to the Holy Spirit to allow Him to fill us, it shouldn’t be just, or even primarily, to receive spiritual gifts, but it should be especially to receive revelation of Christ, to know Him better. That was certainly the heart cry of Paul, (Philippians 3:7-14) and should be ours as well.

I have a personal connection to this passage of Scripture that I was reminded of just yesterday. Many years ago (in Ohio) I was leading a Sunday School lesson that included this passage and suggested that we try setting it to music. I thought that was a nice idea, being musical and having written poetry since childhood, so to encourage the members of the class I accepted what I now recognize as God’s inspiration and, off the cuff, sang the contents of 15-20 to a Calypso beat. They essentially sat there with their mouths open, and didn’t try to do anything similar themselves. What reminded me of that was a young girl in our church who is immensely gifted as a songwriter, but has no confidence in herself. She sang a number of her songs for us after lunch following the church service, accompanying herself on her ukulele, and we were all struck by her ability to take mundane things and make entertaining songs out of them. She has real trouble seeing herself as gifted, so I mentioned my experience to her and pointed out that it’s all God’s business, and we are responsible to be stewards. The higher our vision of God, the more we are aware that He is big enough to do anything at all, even using us. I need to help people understand that their faults and weaknesses aren’t big enough to block God, so that they will step out in faith and obedience to accomplish whatever God wants to do through them.

Father, that was a marvelous experience yesterday. Help me indeed encourage that girl and help her blossom into what You created Her to be, as a reflection of Your grace and love for the blessing of many people, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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