In Colossians 1:18, the Holy Spirit inspires the Apostle Paul to write:
He is also the head of the body, the church;Colossians 1:18
he is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have
first place in everything.
Jesus is the head of the body, the church
The church is the body of Christ. In Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa (found in Acts 26), Paul quotes Jesus as saying to Paul, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” But wait, Paul – or Saul as he was known at the time of the conversation – was persecuting the church, according to Jesus. In Paul’s testimony before Kind Agrippa, Paul states:
In fact, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.– The Apostle Paul during his testimony to King Agrippa Acts 26:9
Saul believed he was opposing a sect of blasphemous Jewish people. When Jesus appears to Saul, though, Jesus tells Saul that he is persecuting Jesus, not just some collection of people who hold common beliefs about Jesus, but Jesus Himself.
…so that he might come to have first place in everything.
Colossians 1:18 states also “so that he might come to have first place in everything.” That sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? Perhaps trite? We’ve heard and read and said, “Jesus is Lord” hundreds – perhaps thousands – of times. We get it. Move along… except do we really get it? What does it really mean for Jesus to be first? For Jesus to be in first place in everything?
It’s easier to project this sentiment into the universe. “first place in everything” is translated into English many ways:
- Most important
- Highest rank
- Chief place
- First dignity
- First one
- First place
The idea is clear. Jesus is first in everything, in all, everywhere.
Jesus should be first, then, in our hearts
Is Jesus first in your heart? “How do I know?” is a fair question. Is there anything you treasure more than Jesus? Is anything in your life more important than Jesus? These questions sound pedantic and – perhaps – petty, no? Let’s apply these thoughts then – especially for the church in the United States:
“If Joe Biden is elected president of the United States in November, Jesus is Lord.”
“If Donald Trump is reelected president of the United States in November, Jesus is Lord.”
What emotions does each statement arouse in you? Do you imagine Jesus will be less Lord if one of them is elected than if the other is elected? Will you believe God is not in control if one is elected? “In control” is one way to interpret “Lord.”
A couple years back, I read a book – well, part of a book – in which the author questioned whether he wanted to be a Christian because of the way some Christians were behaving (and voting). My hope and prayer is that the author repented of this idolatry later in the book. I would not know. I stopped reading as soon as I encountered idolatry.
Note: we can play the "people claiming to be Christians" game if you'd like, but I promise we will end up right back here in a few minutes. Please accept that not all Christians share a particular set of political beliefs - even yours - and that their political beliefs (alone) do not disqualify them from the body.
Do I not care who is elected president of the United States?
I care and that is why I plan to vote. How will the outcome of the US presidential election impact my life? I am uncertain.
How will the outcome of the US presidential election impact my relationship with Christ? It will not. Jesus is Lord. He does not change; He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). My hope, my faith, my trust is in Him. I died and my life is hidden in Him. Nothing will change that; not affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword; not death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing (see Romans 8).
Jesus is first.
First means “ahead and in front of and before everything else.”
If Jesus is tacked onto the side of whatever is first in your or my heart, He is not first.
If Jesus – or Bible verses – justify whatever is first in your or my heart, Jesus is not first.
If the culture or history or our nation or justice or hate is first in your or my heart, Jesus is not first.
If – like the author I mentioned earlier – your or my idea of what being a Christian means is first in your heart, He is not first.
Jesus is first.
If we are Christians,…
Jesus is first.
If you are and I are Christians and Jesus is not first?
Confess. Repent. Pray. Seek God’s face. Turn from idolatry.
Make Jesus first.