In two recent devotionals, I mentioned the Apostle Paul loved to sing (Tuesday, March 29th), and we looked at Philippians (Wednesday, March 30th) as an example of one of his hymns. Paul’s third hymn (Colossians 1:15 – 20) is also his most complicated. Let’s look at it now:
The Preeminence of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 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. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
It can be a little hard to see, but the hymn has three parts:
- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. …
- And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. …
- He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. …
That would be hard to put into music, but the focus is obviously on the nature of Christ. So today, let’s just look at the first part of the first stanza: “He is the image of the invisible God.”
A little boy was drawing feverously in Bible School Class. The teacher walked over to see what he was so intent on. “Tell me about your picture, Tommy,” she said.
“I’m drawing a picture of God,” he replied without even looking up.
The teacher smiled knowingly. “But Tommy, no one knows what God looks like.”
Tommy put down his crayon and looked up. “Well, they will,” he explained, “when I’m finished with this drawing!”
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is so strict about “No idols!” The Second Commandment reads, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). The Apostle Paul was upset to encounter the idols of Athens: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16)
We might have admired the Grecian artwork, but Paul was “provoked.” Instead, we might say, “It’s just a visual aid,” but it’s more than that. Idols are evil because they attempt to put God in a box. When we can define something, we have some control over it. We make ourselves greater than God. An idol can never truly represent the Creator!
But we need to know, don’t we? What is God like? Does He understand what I am going through? The Apostle Paul sings, Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” You don’t need a stone-cold idol to know the Lord. Just think of Jesus! He is the exact representation of the Almighty! No need for idols here.