A Meditation on Colossians 1:15-20 for Cosmos Sunday
Imagine for a moment that you have bucket-loads of money and not only the car of your dreams in your driveway but also an expert driver to go along with it – an ex-formula 1 champion with an impeccable safety record and an intimate knowledge of how to get the very best performance out of your car.
For the first few weeks, as he drives you from place to place all goes smoothly: he gets you to the office and home in record time, and it’s an absolute pleasure to see the expertise with which he takes the gaps and rounds the corners. You settle in, get comfortable – complacent even – and eventually take to reading your newspaper in the back seat.
One day, however, you glance up to find that you’re miles outside the city limits.
“What on earth are you doing? Where DO you think you’re going?” you explode.
“I don’t think that you’re living up to your full potential,” the driver responds. “Just trust me – the place I’m taking you to will be much better for you in terms of your health, your happiness, and your family life.”
I think that very few of us would simply sit back and surrender, putting our complete trust and faith in this relative stranger knowing precisely what is best for us. We’d more likely yell for him to stop the car, fire him, and resume control of the driver’s seat.
Now this is the very experience that we are afraid of when we choose to be Christians; when we put Christ in control of our lives. It’s alright when we see the blessings pouring in and like the direction in which our lives are moving – then we happily sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. But when we take an unexpected turn, or when it looks like he’s going to take us to the dodgy side of town, we snatch for that steering wheel and shout, “I think I’ll take it from here buddy!”
The reason for that is that when we ask God to be in control of our lives we don’t suddenly become new creatures devoid of history or habits. We have dreams still; imagined lives full of what we hope for. We have pasts that have shaped us, parents who have passed down their high (or low) expectations of us, aspects of our personalities that define us and influence our choices – and it often feels like those things are at war with what God is calling us to and with what God commands us to do.
The cosmos invites us to consider our choice, to question whether Christ is worthy of being in control.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians responds with a resounding, “Of course he is!”
He is the image of the invisible God – the epitome of love, defender of the weak, worker of miracles; one who gives generously of himself so that we can know forgiveness and freedom.
He is the firstborn over all creation – the one from whom light and life flows; the one who speaks and brings into being beauty and order and purpose.
By him and for him all things were created – even the powers and authorities of this world for whom he groans when they use their power and position to use and abuse and tear down and oppress.
He holds all things together – from the stars and moons and planets of our ever-expanding universe, to people of different tribes and languages, to families broken by the death of a loved one, to the unnatural gaps in the world like the divide between the rich and the poor. He reminds us that we are all interconnected.
He is the head of the body, the Church. He is the one from whom we take our example and our lead; the one who teaches us how to live; the one who gives us our mission and our meaning; the one who holds together our different gifts, our different passions, our different dreams.
He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead – a God of unimaginable power and possibility; the one who can break every bond that imprisons us, who can resurrect every area of our lives in which we have given up hope, who can open up opportunities for new ways of being and thinking and doing.
The fullness of God dwells in him that he may open our eyes to the fullness of life – to the rest and restoration of gentle rivers and green pastures, to the pressing and cleansing presence of his Spirit in our woundedness, to his comfort in the valleys so dark and full of shadows that we fear we will be lost in them forever.
He is the one who shed his blood on the cross that all things might be reconciled to him who with dying, tortured breath declared, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
This is who Jesus is.
And the cosmos asks us whether we think that one such as this is worthy of being in control of our lives.
The reality of human experience is that we have others in control of us from our very first breath – parents, teachers, friends, older or younger siblings, bosses, wives. Very rarely do we feel that we are in control. And very rarely are those who have influence and control over us anywhere near as worthy as Jesus. So it’s hard to trust, to hand over.
But the car analogy is not actually a good one for in the passage from Colossians we see a Christ who is Supreme but who doesn’t take over. He accompanies, he journeys with, he holds together, he connects.
He is more of a co-driver than a chauffeur: the navigator of a rally car team who tells the driver what lies ahead, where to turn, what obstacles to look out for. He is hands-on – often performing maintenance on the car during road sections. There is an incredible level of trust and frequent, open, clear communication between the two. There is a bond, a comradeship, a sharing of direction and responsibility – and this is what the Christ who is with and in and through all is inviting us to.
I pray that your heart leaps with all of creation in crying out, “Oh Lord, you are worthy!”