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In the current crises of Covid-19 and the cultural challenges in the West, is there anywhere can we turn for hope?
We may feel inclined to echo the words of Jean Paul Sartre, the French Existentialist who said, ‘That God does not exist I cannot deny; that my whole being cries out for God, I cannot forget’.
The encouraging news is that historical evidence and human experience point to a solution to Sartre’s crie de coeur. The answer centers on the question, ‘Who is Jesus of Nazareth?’
In Colossians 1:15 Paul the Apostle writes: Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God,…
We can deny the existence of God, or we can attempt to make images of God, but both are human imaginings that deface the glory of God. I say that even the denial of God’s existence is human imagining, because all around us, especially what are called the laws of nature, point to the existence of a powerful intelligence that created the universe.
For example, against those who say that miracles are inconsistent with the laws of nature, Professor John Lennox, emeritus professor of mathematics at Oxford University comments: ‘From a theistic perspective, the laws of nature predict what is bound to happen if God does not intervene… God’s people understand that the laws of nature are the observable regularities that God the creator has built into the universe.
‘However, such laws don’t prevent God from intervening if he chooses. When he does, we are able to identify the irregularity and speak of it as a miracle’. Jesus’ resurrection, for example, is not the result of a natural mechanism. Rather, as the New Testament says, it happened because God intervened, using his awesome, supernatural power.
The Supremacy of Jesus. To return to Paul’s words, Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God,…
John’s Gospel makes the same point. In the opening lines we read: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And in verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John makes the connection between the image of God and God in terms of a Father and Son relationship – a relationship that always has existed and always will exist. This is critical, for it tells us that God lives, and acts as a Father, the perfect father. Relationship is the heart-beat of God’s existence.
In Colossians 1 Paul goes on to say: for in the Son all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities … Paul is telling us that the Son existed before anything else in creation. Logically, he himself was not created. He always existed and always will exist. Putting these ideas together, we understand that in Jesus, the Son of God, we see God. And because he is also truly human, we see what we were meant to be.
This helps us to understand ourselves and what we are designed for. We are rational because God is rational. We are moral, because God is moral. We have the capacity for relationship because God has always existed in relationship.
We begin to see why Christianity can’t allow itself to be put on the same level as any other religion. Nobody else who has walked this earth could ever be described in terms of such unequivocal divinity as Jesus. He alone is supreme.
Furthermore, we read: By him all things were created,… As the creating agent, Jesus put it all together. And the words, ‘all things were created by him and for him’ tell us that Jesus is also the sustainer of the universe.
When we plumb the depths of the universe, we will find not so much a mathematical equation or a scientific formula, but divinity. Jesus is the logic, the intelligence, the wisdom, who gives the universe its rationality.
This in turn helps us to make sense of our lives in the present and in the future. We see that we’re not just part of a meaningless journey going nowhere. There is a purpose, a goal for us: relationship with God and with one another.
The Source of True Peace. In verse 19 Paul continues: 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.
Too often our world reveals the tragic results of its brokenness: hatred and greed, evil and injustice, suffering and death. Indeed, history shows us only too plainly that we don’t have the resources within us to rescue ourselves from the evil and injustices we have created. None of us is good enough or powerful enough to bring about the kind of peace we long for.
The amazing story of the Bible is that from the very beginning of time, God was not going to reject this evil and ungrateful world, but instead chose to rescue it. Paul is telling us here that when Jesus died God laid the foundation for a just and lasting peace. Through the blood that Jesus shed, God reconciled to himself all things.
One day God is going to make a new heaven and a new earth, where Jesus will reign in truth and goodness, justice and peace forever. But more of this next week.
In the meantime, we need to consider afresh our own understanding of Jesus Christ and our relationship with him. Do we daily turn to him asking for his forgiveness? Furthermore, what are we doing to introduce others to him? Are you even planning to forward this ‘Word’ to start a conversation?