Our Perception of Christ; December 19, 2022

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

Just yesterday in Children’s Church I was talking about how nobody could see God before Jesus was born, but His birth changed that. Some people, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, try to claim that this verse means Jesus wasn’t actually God, but was a created being. His physical body was created through the miraculous action of the Holy Spirit on Mary’s ovum, but He Himself existed before anything material did, as the following verse makes clear. I like the way the Japanese expresses this verse. In Japanese, there are two ways to indicate birth, one with the character used in “obstetrics” and the other with the character that means “life” or “alive.” The second of those is used here, making this come out as, “He was alive before everything that is created.” (We use that character in the name of this church, Shinsei no Sato, which means literally, “Home of New Life.”) Paul may possibly have seen Jesus during His ministry, but we have no record of that. What we do know is that Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, and he was forever changed by that encounter. (Acts 9) His knowledge and perception of Christ continued to deepen from that moment, leading to total commitment and martyrdom, with such things as this passage written along the way. Shortly before his martyrdom he wrote to his spiritual son Timothy, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:9-12) How we perceive Christ makes all the difference in the world, both in this life and for eternity.

I’ve never had a visual revelation of Christ, but He has spoken to me many times in many ways. The question, for me and for everyone else, is how I have responded. If my commitment, my loving obedience, is less than perfect, then I haven’t perceived Him sufficiently. However, as Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12) I have to be at peace with my current incomplete perception of my Lord and be satisfied that I will one day stand before Him, and everything incomplete will be washed away by the glory of His presence. I am to keep pressing in to know more of Him as long as I am in this body, but know that my current limitations are no eternal obstacle.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the musical setting You gave me for this passage, over 43 years ago now. Help me indeed perceive as much as I need to of You, Your Son, Your Spirit, and respond appropriately, being and doing exactly what You want of me, 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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