Theme: How do we think about God? We know he is ‘the boss’, but what kind of boss? We sometimes think of God as some kind of Donald Trump in the sky, who is enjoying a process of making us squirm. We’ve got to put that sort of attitude aside. When God tells us to act certain ways, he’s not pushing us around, he’s inviting us to become like himself.
Okay, I have a question. I am really looking for answers to and try to be honest, when you think of a boss, what do you think about? Now if your boss is here, don’t say anything. For the rest of you what? Somebody? You think of your supervisor at work, okay? What else do you think of? What a nice guy he is. That’s because you are your own boss, okay. Your father-in-law, okay. What’s that? Lack of good communication. Leader. Your wife. Okay. We have all kinds of images when we come up with the idea of a boss and some of those ideas are negative. Think about the image we have on The Apprentice. You know what is it like to have a boss like Donald Trump? We watch that show, those of us who watch it, you watch that show in order to get to that moment when he says, “You’re fired.” That’s the whole purpose of the show, is to wait for those moments. And so we think of this sort of person who is driven and egotistical and who is that sort of person where they are always thinking and saying, it’s my way or the highway. It’s what we think about often times. We’ve got all these good images and one of the things that I have realized is that a whole lot of people that go to this church are managers and bosses themselves, because they have such wonderful things to say about bosses. But we have some negative images as well. The person, who really doesn’t understand us, doesn’t really communicate well and is always pushing us around.
Well, in the Biblical times, they had a similar idea about people who were in authority. In fact, when Jesus talks about leaders he says, don’t be like the leaders you already know about, people who are always pushing people around, people who like to have people who wait on them and who enjoy the privileges of leaders, but be the sort of person who serves. So Jesus knew what leaders were like and so did everybody else around them. And so in to this kind of environment the Christian church came and said “Jesus is Lord” and by “Lord” they meant the one who was master, the one who had a right to tell people what to do. Now, if they would have just said “Jesus is Savior,” that would have been a safe thing to say, because then the Romans would have just said here’s another religion to add on to all of our other religions and then whoever wants to be a Christian, go ahead and be a Christian. But when the Christian said Jesus is not only Savior, but he’s Lord, they were saying something that was treasonous, because in Roman society the only person who could be Lord, who could be Master, who could be the boss was Ceasar, and yet the church insisted upon this to the point that for over 200 years following the time of the New Testament Christians died because they insisted that Jesus is Lord.
Now the problem is that we as Americans hear this word “Lord” and if we think about it outside of a church context it sort of has the feel of a British romance novel you know, a Lord and a lady and all of this. We don’t have a feel for that because Americans don’t have a king. We don’t have people who inherit the right to rule us. We elect them. And then we criticize them, and then we boot them out and replace them. That’s the American past time. That’s the way we view leadership. It’s somebody we chose, at least in government it’s somebody that we choose and someone we are free to criticize anytime we want. But, one area where that is not true in our lives is in the workplace. Many of us have a boss that we didn’t choose and those people, at least in that sphere of life, have the right to tell us what to do and what we can’t do and sometimes they are good and sometimes they aren’t. And so for us as Americans maybe one way we can look at this issue that Jesus is Lord is to recognize that Jesus is boss of everything.
Now the passage that I am going to read to you right now from the Book of Colossians, Chapter 1, I think its on about page 833 of the Bibles you have. This particular section is one that is quite prominent in the New Testament talking about the lordship of Jesus Christ, how he is master of things and I am going to read verses 15 to 20 because this is the heart of this section and it is a hymn of the early church. You can’t see it in the English, but in the Greek, it’s metrical prose and so it’s actually something that could have been repeated as a part of worship or it could have been sung and so these, it’s got a verse one, it’s got a bridge and it’s got a verse two. Verses 15 and 16 is verse 1, 17 and the first part of verse 18 is the bridge and then the rest of it is verse 2. There are things that unite the two sections and as I read it you will notice some of them. Repeated words like firstborn, the idea of God dwelling in a Jesus in a special way. These show up in the first and second half. In him, by him, all things, these are going to be repeated as well. So hear the word of the Lord from Colossians, Chapter 1, speaking of Jesus:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Let’s pray. God, we thank you for this your word and pray now that as we think about it together you might show us the things we need to know, and help us to respond in the obedience that grows out of faith. For we ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.
This is talking about why it’s right to view Jesus as Lord. Who is he that we can say he’s the boss of everything? Well, verse one of this hymn tells us that he is the boss, because he is Gods agent in creation. As we look into this it says, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven, things on earth, visible and invisible.” So Jesus is the creator. Jesus is the one who created not only the things on earth, but even heaven is something that was created for him and by him. And then it talks about it being the visible and invisible. It’s not only the world that we see and experience and enjoy, but there are authorities and powers that we don’t see. There are authorities and powers that we do see in human life and all of this power and authority was created by him and for him. And so Jesus is the boss because he’s the creator. This was made for him and it was made by him. This shows up in one phrase and one word that’s used here. In this passage it talks about Jesus being the image of the invisible God. Now, when we think about this thing about image, we think about photographs or paintings, something that looks like something else and you can tell what’s represented there, but it’s not the real thing. For example, if I get a picture of myself and email it to my mother, she’s happy about that, but it’s not the same as visiting and she makes that very clear to me. I can send dozens of pictures, it’s not the same as a visit. Because it is not really me, it’s an image of me. She can tell its me. She can tell that I have gotten older, but it’s not me. I don’t know whether you enjoy CSI, it’s one of the programs that I guiltily enjoy. And one of the types of times I really like the show is when they walk into this room and it has been scrubbed clean you know and the perpetrator has done this job of making sure that he will never be caught and they walk in and they spray some stuff and they pull out a black light and all of a sudden the blood stains shine out. The real blood stains were invisible and now they see the real blood stains. It’s really them. It’s not a picture of them, it’s the real thing. But what was invisible is now visible and that’s what its talking about here when it says Jesus is the image of God. He’s the real thing, it’s just that what was invisible in him is now visible.
There’s another word here where it talks about Jesus being the firstborn of all creation and then it goes on to say, ” For by him all things were created”. So its not picturing Jesus as being the first thing that was created, but the fact that he has the right of inheritance. He has the authority over the whole thing because he is the one that created it. He’s the supreme one. He’s the heir of all of creation. And so, we have these pictures of Jesus being supreme and having the right to be boss because he created it all.
Now then, we go into verse 17 and in verse 17 at first it looks back. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. So Jesus still has a vital role in creation. That’s looking back. Now, in the first part of verse 18 it looks forward and he is the head of the body, the church. Now this is something new. It’s now looking not at God’s creation of the universe, but God’s re-creation that he is doing in the church, the reconciliation of the universe. So Jesus is Gods agent of reconciliation, the one who starts the new creation and in here also he is the head he is the firstborn it says from among the dead. That’s not just the fact that he is the first resurrected, but it is from his resurrection, that is the source of all resurrection. He creates the new creation. So Jesus is Lord because of creating everything, but he’s Lord also and head of the church because he is the one that forms the new creation. Now what’s amazing about this is what happens in verse 20, which closes out this hymn. It says in verse 19, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”, this parallels this image of God in the first part and then verse 20, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
That’s not a very boss-like thing to do. Bosses are people who tell other people what to do, who make things happen and yet here Jesus the one who is Lord over everything, at great personal cost God reaches out to us to reconcile a broken relationship where there is hatred and entity on our side and where God in his purity can’t accept us the way we are and he decides out of all the infinite options that God has, he decides to reconcile us at personal costs, not at cost to us, but at cost to himself. He had other options. He could have taken universe 1.0 and replaced it with universe 2.1. It was an option. He didn’t do it. He could have made us pay and pay dearly for our rebellion and selfishness, but he doesn’t do it. He reaches out at cost to himself.
So that means that we have got to have the right sort of attitude about God. What do you take home from a passage like this? A passage that talks about Jesus being supreme, being the Lord, being the boss. What we take home is a new attitude. We could look at the Bible and say this is something where you know God is trying to push us around and tell us how to live. We think of God as some kind of Donald Trump in the sky, who is kind of enjoying this process of making us squirm. We’ve got to put that sort of attitude aside and recognize it for what it really is. Because when God tells us to act certain ways, he’s not pushing us around, he’s inviting us in. He’s asking us to become like himself. So when he says I want you to endure hardship, he’s saying endure hardship as Jesus did who faced the shame and suffering of the cross. Be like me. When he asks us to be patient, he’s says be patient with one another, because I am patient too. I have been patient with this world the way it is and I have been patient with you. Be like me and enjoy what that means. When he asks us to forgive, he’s inviting us in to a closeness with himself, because he has found a way to forgive. And so when he asks us to forgive, he is saying be like me. Know me, experience my forgiveness and experience what it is like to be me, because that’s the way I created you to be. I created you to be like me and it’s sin and selfishness and it’s our self-dependency that has made us different than that. And even when God calls us to be humble, he’s telling us, be like me.
Because it’s not that God has some part of his character that needs humble people around so that he can get high off the fact that everybody is going to say, “Oh God, you are better than me.” Jesus emptied himself. Jesus came down and took upon himself the life of a servant and faced even death on our behalf and it says in the Psalms, “who is like our God who humbles himself to even behold the things in heaven and on earth.” God has always humbled himself to relate to creation and foremost in Jesus Christ he humbled himself, even to the point of death to reach out to us. So even when God says, “Remember to be humble” he is saying be like me.
So when we look into the scripture the kind of attitude we have is that we put aside this sense that this is a bunch of rules and recognize this for what it really is. It’s a love story and it’s an invitation. It’s a love story because God who had other options took the hard one. He took the option of suffering in our place, in order to reestablish the possibility of a relationship. We mean that much to him. And it’s an invitation because in love God says what I want for you is that you come to me. What I want for you is that you really get to know me because you were created for that relationship and to have all kinds of other relationships will be great, but you will never be complete until you have that relationship. You’ve been created with that vacuum and that shape space in your life. And that he also has said, “as you come to me and come to know me, become like me, because you were created to reflect my glory.” So what do we do with a passage like this? We respond to this kind of boss, one who loves us and one who gives us an invitation, who says the cost has been paid, all the obstacles that could stand between us including my own anger, that’s been dealt with, now come to me in Jesus Christ. Wherever we are, whether we haven’t made a first step towards Jesus Christ or whether we have made dozens and are growing in our relationship to him, there is always the necessity to move again towards Jesus Christ.
So what I would like us to do for just a few moments and then after that Shelly will ead us in prayer together, just for a few moments now I would like us to silently take a look at where we are in relationship to God and struggle with what it means to take the next step closer to him. Let’s pray.
Shelley speaking: I am going to give you some time to respond to the words of Paster John this morning. I am going to just start out this worship set with a prayer with time for each of you to meet with God individually, to think out some tough thoughts going through your mind or maybe rejoice in him or whatever you need to do individually. I am going to pray for a little bit and then there will be some silence and utilize that time individually and then we are going to sing some songs. But I just encourage you to really look inside of your heart and inside of yourselves and to open yourselves up to what Pastor John said and let the Holy Spirit work in you.
Lord you are glorious. Lord you are Holy. You are almighty and Lord you rule over us.
God before your son Jesus died your children had to sacrifice numerous animals to atone for their sins. Every day they would slaughter these animals that had to be pure to atone for theirs sins and to make themselves right with you God. How many animals, how many goats, how many lambs would I have had to sacrifice for my sins Lord? How many animals would have to be slaughtered for the world? God you are Lord, you are Jesus, you are Savior.
Jesus you are Lord because you have formed the new creation. Your blood shed on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice for your people. No more animals, just you God. You bestowed to us a precious gift, the gift of grace. All we have to do is accept that gift and we are renewed, washed clean and pure like you Lord. Lord you are glorious. You are merciful God. You are our Savior.
May we be humble by you Lord. May we follow you in faith. May we seek to know you God, to know who you are, to know you as our boss, as our Savior, as our Lord and may we stand on that grace God. Amen.