Monday, January 14, 2019 - Devotional for Day 8
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. Colossians 1:18 (ESV)
If you have ever been rock climbing, you know the importance of the one who belays the climber. This is the person, also in a harness, attached to the rope that is attached to you, as you ascend and descend. The one who belays holds the line just so, feeds one end out and up with one hand, and pulls down sharply with the other hand to lock the line in place. The climber is secure. So secure, in fact, that if the climber tires, they can push off the wall and enjoy a sort of seated-hover, dangling however many feet up they may be.
The more the climber grasps the dependability of the one who holds him, the more he will likely tackle the ascent, in spite of the challenges, with gusto. To fast is not so different; we step out in faith that God is holding us securely, that He will provide what we truly need. How can we know He is trustworthy and holds us securely? We need to grasp the rock-solid steadfastness of God as expressed most fully in the person and purpose of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:18 declares, “He is the head of the body…” The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Colossae to explain the centrality of Jesus Christ to their faith. He wanted them to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and doing this required that they understand how and in what way Jesus makes it possible to do so. As I ponder why Jesus took on human flesh, I’m reminded how faithful God is to fulfill His purposes in Creation.
It is interesting that, just a few verses before these, Paul notes that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” This reference reminds us of similar words, spoken at the dawn of history, in Genesis, which records God made man in His image, male and female. Adam and Eve, these firstborns of creation, are given their identity, unique within Creation, to bear God’s image—to be like God—in the world.
In the opening verses of Scripture, God speaks creation into being and meaning. The man, Adam, begins his apprenticeship as God’s image bearer. God brings the creatures before Adam, and the man also speaks to name the creatures. There is a creative, cultivating, stewarding nature to humanity’s vocation.
It all goes horribly wrong, when Adam and Eve rebel…how can one reflect God while disobeying God? It’s like downloading a virus and thinking that your blinking, smoking computer can carry on. It’s not just a little broken. Everything is compromised. In creation, every good thing, every word, becomes subject to the toxicity of sin and death. In the generations that follow, we find God has a good case for crumpling the universe into a wad, tossing it over His metaphorical shoulder, and starting over. Yet he does not. Why not?
In Malachi 3:6, God explains, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” I have wrestled with the meaning of this phrase, thinking perhaps it meant that God does not “change his mind.” Many examples in Scripture suggest a different nuance; God often expresses a conditional responsiveness to humanity: “If you keep sinning, I will cause this to happen…” but, “If you turn from sin, I will relent…” For extra credit, some examples are: 2 Kings 20:1-6; Exodus 32:1-14; Jonah 3:1-10; and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20. Of course, His character does not change in any scenario. But another element of God’s unchanging-ness could be described as this: His overall will for the outcome of human history and all of creation is settled. What God declares will be, will be.
God had decided: the human race would faithfully reflect His glory and character. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam, Jesus, was utterly faithful, showing us how to live, humble and dependent on God, through the Holy Spirit. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has become the Savior, King, and Firstborn of the entire human—finally, truly human—race.
God did not give up on His creation! If He is that faithful to His creative purposes, well, it’s a no brainer. At this point, you know that every promise of God is trustworthy. Declare the promises found in Scripture to be true. Pray these with confidence. Now you can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, because you know the work is done, that He holds you fast, and that He does not fail. Climb on!
Holy God, You created me for a purpose: to bear Your image. I confess, I have been in rebellion against You, either outright or quietly, serving myself, and bound by sin. I was desperate for Your rescue and redemption in Christ. Thank You for not giving up on me! I declare, in faith, that in Jesus Christ You do all You have promised—to rescue, redeem, and restore me, to sanctify me and empower me to live, truly live, in Jesus Christ. The work is done. The staggering depth of Your love and faithfulness holds me fast, even as I face the unknowns of today and tomorrow. I will go wherever You take me.
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