The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
I am a worship leader. No, I don’t play guitar and lead songs, but I am a worship leader. You are too. It’s our highest calling and one that will never end. Our lives will be defined by our worship, and our worship will, for better or worse, lead the worship of others.
Some of you don’t know that I work for a seminary. Seedbed is a mission of Asbury Theological Seminary. Before I got involved with Seedbed, I served eleven years as the dean of the chapel on our Kentucky campus, which means I served as a pastor to hundreds of men and women preparing to serve the church.
A major part of the job involved designing and leading corporate worship for three different gatherings throughout the week—coming to about a thousand gatherings before we were done. Our main objective was to lift up as beautiful and big and bold a vision of Jesus as possible every single time. The inside joke was we approached Jesus in worship like we approached voting in Arkansas in the old days—early and often. How soon could we begin talking about Jesus? How quickly we say his name? What stories could we tell about him? Every time he gets lifted up, he draws people to himself.
Here we are, only fifteen verses in, and Paul is casting an utterly stratospheric vision of the Son of God. He does this in all his letters: Jesus early and Jesus often. Check out the first few lines of it again:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
We must see Jesus. We were made to behold him. His life, not in general but in a thousand specific ways, must become our vision. His preexistence, preeminence, conception, birth, life, words, deeds, miracles, relationships, signs, sermons, parables, prayers, suffering, passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, and eternal reign must become our holy obsession. This is the message Paul offers the Colossians and the Columbians, the Americans and the Africans, and everyone else. We must see Jesus. We must fix our gaze upon him.
Why is this so important? Because we become like what or whom we behold. We will behold someone or something. That we will worship is a given. Whom or what we will worship is up for grabs. Because we are made in the image of God, and because Jesus is the image of God, and because we will not find our true selves until we find ourselves in him, we must see Jesus. As his life becomes the source and substance of our lives, we become the people God imagined when he first imagined us. As we become those particular people, our lives (and, particularly our relationships) lead his worship and others see the vision. Like it or not, we are worship leaders, you and me. Where are we leading them? You are getting the hang of this.
So, what will you call Domino #1/15?
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who leads us all in triumphal procession. He is the image of the invisible God; the firstborn over all creation; the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; the Alpha and Omega; the one who holds all things together, in whom we live and move and have our being. Open the eyes of our hearts to see him in all his lowliness and in all his exaltedness. We must see Jesus. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- How does today’s daily text both challenge and encourage you?
- How will you “turn your eyes upon Jesus,” as the 1920s hymn encourages us to do? How will Jesus more and more become your vision?
- What does a daily habit and practice of beholding Jesus look like for you? How can that grow? You will only grow as this grows.
For the Awakening,
Good morning! I am listing my “dominoes” but I have gaps! We are on #15? But yesterday was #13? And the one before #9? Did I overlook something? Thanks!
1) One of Christianity’s greatest challenges is to let the resurrected Jesus’ literally demonstrate His supremacy when His body gathers! “He is the Head of the body, the church (in Greek “ekklesia”–the participatory town meeting in ancient Greek city-states) . . . so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” When Christ-followers gather to actively surrender to Jesus’ supremacy, He will actually take the reins and begin to reign in their midst as they all listen to His inner voice and then as each person says and does whatever Jesus prompts them to. It’s amazingly encouraging to let Jesus take the literal headship of and directly control a gathering of His body.
2) When I see Jesus in action, demonstrating the reality of His presence by directly leading and manifesting through ordinary people, my eyes light up with awe as my awareness of the risen Jesus’ grows in my vision.
3) By connecting heart-to-heart with the living Jesus and seeking to maintain that vital connection throughout each day, my awareness of His presence grows. By continually opening my heart to other people and seeing my interactions with them as Christ-connections that I need to literally allow Him to lead by obeying His inner promptings, I behold the living Jesus working on them and/or in them and I get a taste of His glory!
J D, before I respond to your questions, I will share some thoughts that I had during my alone time with God this morning. I, along with an elder at another churches Wednesday night mens Bible study, are co-facilitating a class based on Francis Chan’s book, Letters to the Church. In preparation for next week, I previewed the next chapter which deals with the cost of discipleship. This morning during my prayer and contemplation time I was reminded of one of John Wesley’s sermons entitled Almost Christians. This chapter I’ll be covering will require the participants to engage in some introspection regarding how well our lives reflect the teachings of Christ We live in a country where I suspect meany of us have embraced a sub-Christian Gospel message, that one can be a Christian without really imitating the life of Christ. This way, we can convince ourselves that we’re good to go without having to face the rejection of the world and it’s values. Now to my response to your questions: #1 Jesus should be my all in all, everything else should support that truth.#2 The way to remain focused on Jesus requires a deeper prayer life and a solid commitment to totally surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This, with the full knowledge that following Christ comes with the expectation of suffering for the kingdom.#3 The daily habit and practice of beholding Jesus looks like the marks of the true church found in Acts 2:42-47, a return to primitive Christianity.