Colossians 1:15-18 NRSV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in[h] 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. 17 He himself is before all things, and in[i] him all things hold together.18 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.
Just a couple of quick reflections on this completely awesome passage… This last part of Colossians 1 is just packed with profound stuff.
The Greek word for image in v.15 is εἰκὼν, “icon.” A theology professor of ours first pointed that out to us about 17 years ago and I’ve been working ever since on what it might mean.
It strikes me again the importance of understanding that Jesus wasn’t God’s “plan B” or something. God is Trinity… Father, Son, and Spirit… and the Son was coming before creation was even a reality. That’s important on a bunch of different levels.
Then secondly, it’s important for us pastor types to remember v. 18 now and again… I’ve heard way too many pastors utter the term “my church.” I’m guilty, too. But when we use those words I think sometimes they really do reflect where our heart is. We’ve come to the place where we view our ministry as “ours.” Mine to manipulate, manage, create, control, and protect. Or something. Probably we need to be careful thinking that way, because Paul in this passage reminds us repeatedly that Christ is to have first place in everything. Anything else is idolatry. And sometimes I think even our own church (and worrying about her “success” or “failure” can become an idol. And that very real temptation to idolatry reveals itself when we refer to the charge we’ve been given as “my church.”