Christ existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. He is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. (Colossians 1:17-18; New Living Translation)
Christ is first in everything. To listen to a lot of our songs, our prayers, and our preaching it might seem otherwise.
The moral therapeutic deism of our day, which I’ve mentioned before, makes us first in everything. God has a plan for our lives. He exists to serve us and make us happy. If there’s a good reason for moral choice, it’s to enhance our own lives (not reflect the holiness of God). We don’t point to Him as much as He points to us. The old saying that “Jesus would have died on the cross for me, if I was the last person left standing on the planet” exemplifies this mentality.
Apparently, this self-centeredness dates back a long way; at least as far back as the first century and the Christians at Colosse.
The Apostle Paul uses these opening words of his epistle to drive home not just the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ, but also His primacy. He existed before all things. He is the beginning of everything. He is first. He deserves both priority and privilege.
Christ stands as first in the Church, and first among all who have been or will be resurrected.
But churches, just like individual people, have a way of getting distracted. Sometimes we count and compete. Sometimes we get so lost in the felt-needs of people walking through the doors, that we overlook the express call of God for us to worship Him. Banks of speakers, innovative lighting, and high-energy platform performers can reflect a subtle (or not too subtle) shift of attention from God and His Word, to the staff and their skills. It usually happens in small degrees over time.
But Christ is jealous. Jealous for His name; jealous for His fame; jealous for our worship; jealous to be first. While glory awaits us, He deserves His now.
He is head of His Church; not simply the object of our preaching, but the one with true authority. As the source of the Church, He takes responsibility for the well-being of the Church. He also has authority over the Church. How have we honored Him (above all else) in our congregations? What place does He have in our private lives?
First. Christ was first, is first, and will be first. Everything follows in His wake. Our own choices ought serve His purposes.
Today will present its share of challenges for each of us; financial strains, health concerns, marital conflict, workplace stresses, parenting challenges, and more. But in all of this, Christ ought remain first in our hearts. Will He?