In December 2015, Dr. Larycia Hawkins a tenured professor at Wheaton college began wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf. She explained her actions in a Facebook post:
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.” – see Christianity Today: Wheaton College Suspends Hijab-Wearing Professor After ‘Same God’ Comment and Joint Statement by Wheaton College and Dr. Larycia Hawkins Announcing a Resolution.
Not surprisingly, her explanation sparked some debate in the Christian community. While I can’t pretend to settle that debate, I think Colossians 1:13-23 speaks to the questions her explanation raised.
In this section, Paul argues that Jesus Christ is absolutely central to the gospel. Essentially, Paul claims you can not seek God and avoid Christ.
The Colossian church was in danger of believing a false gospel and Paul is writing to correct them.
In Paul’s opening prayer, he emphasized the life-changing hope believers have in the gospel. Continuing that theme, Paul claims that we have this hope only because of Jesus Christ. All that we can know of God is know through Jesus and all of creation falls under Jesus’ authority.
We ought to take Paul’s claims seriously because idolatry is not just worshiping a false God; idolatry is also worshiping a false idea of the true God (Exodus 32).
Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light
Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
“image of the invisible God” – When I look at the visible man Jesus, I can see and learn what I need to know about the invisible God.
Joh 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Joh 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. – John 14:8-10
“firstborn of all creation” – The first-born had the authority to speak for the father in the father’s absence. In all of creation idea there is no one higher than Jesus.
Col 1:16 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.
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Col 1:18 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.
Jesus Christ has priority in every way. Everything in creation — every throne, every power, every authority both visible and invisible — falls under the authority given to Jesus.
Col 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
Col 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus is the visible manifestation of everything I need to know about God. You cannot seek God and avoid Christ.
Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
Col 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The Colossians were trying to define the gospel without Christ. But, you can not seek God and avoid Christ.
Search creation high and low for the meaning of life and you will find it only in Jesus. All this reconciliation and life-changing hope is yours IF you continue believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Next: 04 Colossians 1:24-2:3 Riches of Assurance
Previous: 02 Colossians 1:3-12 Life Changing Hope
Part of the series: Colossians: Getting the Gospel Right
Study Resources: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.