Saturday

17 November 2007

"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross." (v.19-20)

Background

The key theme this week is the conviction that God, the redeemer, will reveal himself in the world to stand alongside the faithful and to declare them to be his people. This conviction is most clearly expressed at times of challenge and crisis when God's people have been at their most vulnerable and when faith has been tested to the limit: the redeemer Testament belief developed into the idea of the coming Messiah (God's chosen and anointed one) who would rescue his people, and will come and bless his people.

In the Old and the New Testament it found its focus in Jesus and, above all, in his resurrection and hoped-for return.

But sometimes 'vindication' for the righteous (or the 'right ones') also means judgement for the unrighteous (or the 'wrong ones'). Blessing for 'us' implies cursing for 'them'. And that isn't always the most appealing aspect of religious belief.

This passage therefore is a welcome challenge to those who want to claim that God is on their side - be that Israel or the Church, or the pious individual with a righteous glint in their eye who knows for sure that their faith will be rewarded.

These few verses tell a very different story. Their focus is the beloved Son of God, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (from verses 13-15). Not just of the faithful few, nor even of all humanity, but of all creation. And that includes 'all things in heaven and on earth'.

God has revealed himself in Christ, not for the benefit of a privileged few (and tough on the rest), but for the sake 'all things'. Heaven and earth are not seen as evil or corrupt (as in Revelation), but as held together in Christ, who is not just head of the Church, but head of everything. The risen Christ, the firstborn from the dead, reveals God to the whole creation and through him God redeems everything, declaring everything to be good, just as he had always intended them to be.

To Ponder

Do you think that religious belief should essentially be about being 'right'?

What's the point of believing, if God is going to make everything 'right' anyway?

Do you agree that this passage 'tells a different story' to the ones we have read before? How do you decide which is right?

Bible notes author: David Rhymer

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