“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.” (Colossians 1:15-23 :NRSV)
I recently heard Steve Harvey’s introduction to Jesus. I would encourage you to look for it online. I am not a great fan of Steve Harvey, but he has made a name for himself while still keeping to Christian values, and for that I admire him. My point in mentioning him is that I was reminded of it as I read what Paul (or at least the writer of Colossians) wrote. Paul boasts in the fact that he is a follower of Jesus and by extension of God. It is my hope that Steve Harvey boasts in the same thing.
“I am happy in my sufferings for you. There is much that Christ must still suffer. And I gladly accept my part of those sufferings in my body for the good of his body, the church. I became a servant of the church because God gave me a special work to do. This work helps you. My work is to tell the complete message of God. This message is the secret truth that was hidden since the beginning of time. It was hidden from everyone for ages, but now it has been made known to God’s holy people. God decided to let his people know just how rich and glorious that truth is. That secret truth, which is for all people, is that Christ lives in you, his people. He is our hope for glory. So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person. We are trying to bring everyone before God as people who have grown to be spiritually mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:24 – 28 :Easy-to-Read Version)
I have chosen to use the Easy-to-Read Version because I feel it phrases in a clearly understandable way what Paul is trying to say. It may not reflect most accurately what Paul (or the writer of Colossians) intended to say, but it translates in a very accessible way was has come down to us.
Some time back I had learned and come to appreciate that many different and diverse people have been and are called to ministry. These diverse people need to be diverse precisely so they can relate to and call all sorts of people into relationship with God. God has enough diversity to be a God for all people, and God desires this. But if a person does not know God, how can they know this? It takes people who take seriously living for God and reaching out to people. Just because all Christians believe in a common God does not mean all of our beliefs are identical. But if we can differ and yet live in harmony, that is okay. And let God sort out in God’s time what is the better and best way. We will come back to that theme later in the week. But for now, let us rejoice that Paul and others have devoted their lives to beginning the message of God to the world.