Life with God:  Learning from Jesus     Text: Colossians 1:15-20  

January 27, 2019 Rev. Donald W. Hackett          Centre Presbyterian Church New Park, PA

Faith Conversation Starters

  • What are these? What are they used for?
  • They help us count.  They help us figure things out like a calculator or computer.
  • What helps us figure God out?  How do we learn more about God?
  • How does Jesus help us understand God?

Introduction

Jesus Christ came came because God wanted to be deeply connected with you and me. This year in our preaching we will combine an exploration of spiritual practice with expansive scripture study to deeper our connection with God.  

For the whole year we will be using a daily devotional, A Year With God by Richard Foster & Julia Roller, as our guide.  The sermons will dig into one of the scripture texts and the faith practice introduced each week.  No matter where you are or go, we can travel together in allowing God to transform each of us into the wonderful likeness of Jesus Christ.  Copies of A Year With God will be available at church or order online-there is also a Kindle edition available.

Learning from Jesus

Last week and this week we are considering what we can learn from Jesus. If you following along in your devotional, this is covered days 14 to 25.  Next week we will begin the section on prayer. Today I want to look at how we can learn from Jesus who he really is and how we can best relate to Jesus.

Background

Our text today comes from the little book to the Colossians.  It comes out of letter the Apostle Paul wrote to this new band of Christian disciples in 60AD while he was imprisoned in Rome.  They lived in Colosse, a city in Asia Minor or modern day Turkey.  There were lots of Greek and Roman gods to pick from. It was tempting to add other religions or beliefs to Christianity.  “Maybe I need a good luck charm, a reading of the stars or my palm, a little idol, or a lottery ticket to help me along with Jesus.”  This has been a temptation in every age. Paul wrote this letter to remind them  and us that everything they need is found in Jesus Christ.

Our Text: Colossians 1:15-20 The Message

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 

He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. 

So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

  1. Jesus Helps Us See God

What can we learn from Jesus? Apparently from this passage, quite a bit.

This passage is so rich, let’s slow down and savor what is here.  Paul says:

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. 

God cannot be seen?  What is the testimony of the other parts of the Bible?

  • Hebrews 11:24-27  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 
  • 1 Kings 19:11-13  The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
  • John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
  • Romans 1 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
  • 1 Timothy 1:17  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In the past God could be heard, but not seen.  In Jesus, the Word made flesh, God can be seen and touched.  We can have a good idea what God is like because he has come and lived among us.  Jesus moved into our neighborhood. In Jesus we got to know what love dwelling in a person looks like. You and I can see God by studying the life of Jesus.  As we study Jesus of Nazareth, we have questions like:

  • Who was Jesus?  
  • Where did he come from?  
  • What sort of power, authority, and status did have before coming to us?
  1. Jesus is God as Creator

We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.

Jesus is the Creator of the universe.  The creation of all things described in the book of Genesis 1,  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” was by Jesus Christ.  John 1 echos this by saying:

  • John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Jesus Christ as the Son of God, a member of the Holy Community, made all things, created people, designed relations, and knows how we best function and thrive.  As we learn from Jesus, we are coming to one who can teach us about life, community, love and how it all works together like no other.  Jesus teaches us how to be fully human.

  1. Jesus is God as Redeemer and Sustainer

He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.  He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. 

According to this Jesus is holding us together, physically and spiritually.  If Jesus let go, we would come apart.  Our atoms would separate and be spread all over the universe.  The same is true spiritually.  Jesus holds us, his Church, together by His Spirit. Jesus connects us to his followers around the globe and through time.  Jesus is leading us in love to healing, wholeness, and to a life fully connected to God.  The secret weapon for destroying evil and birthing a universe that brings life to all is us, the church!  Jesus is in charge and leading us forward.  As we learn from Jesus this year, this is not just an academic study. We are a part of changing the world. So we engage in the spiritual practices, we will be changed as well. 

  1. Jesus is God as the Final Victor and Healer

So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

I love this description of Jesus.  There is room for everyone to learn at the feet of Jesus.  No matter who you are or what you have been through, Jesus is seeking you.  Through his love he is able to meet people where they are and then take them step by step on a journey of healing.  There is a website call “I Am Second” [found at https://www.iamsecond.com].  Here you can hear the stories of all sorts of people who have found that Jesus is one who brought them healing, life, and purpose. You can even record your story with Jesus Christ.

How about us? How do we respond today to the Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Beginning and the End, Who was and is and is to come?  As people seeking, we gather to worship, to learn, to surrender who we are and what we have so we can continue the journey with God.

Closing Prayer:  Gracious God, you are always reaching out to us.  Thank you for sending your Son to be with us, teach, and rescue us and your Spirit to guide and empower us. Help us to live and thrive in your circle of love. In Christ, Amen.