One of my favorite New-Testament passages is Colossians 1:15-20. In this section of the letter, Paul emphasizes the place Christ has within God’s plan. My friend asked me a question about the phrase “that in all things, He [Jesus] might have the preeminence.” Some translations use the phrase “first place” to describe the position of Christ in this section. The question boils down to this: should Christ just be the first place in a list of many other priorities? or does this passage seem to indicate something else?
The only other time this word “preeminence” is used in the New Testament is in the third letter of John. There, Diotrephes apparently refused to accept some letters from John and did not recognize John’s apostolic authority. On top of all this, he refused to “welcome the brothers” and excommunicates those who would accept them. This man was verbally abusive against John and his cohort. The primary description that John uses for this man is that he “likes to put himself first” which is sometimes translated “loves the first place.”
Diotrephes was consumed with himself. The only priority he had was making himself prominent in the church to which he ministered.
In contrast, what Paul argues is that Christ is the all consuming focus of the Christian. Since God made Christ the central focus of His plan to reconcile all things to Himself it stands to reason that Christians would do well to make God’s priorities their own. So, instead of Christ being the first of many priorities, Christ actually provides the foundation for all other priorities. The question I can ask myself related to this are:
- How does a priority in my life fit with God’s priority?
- How do my priorities find their resolution in Christ?
- Do I conduct my life consistent to what God has revealed about Jesus?
I pray that I make Jesus my focus or the lens through which I filter every aspect of my life in contrast to seeing Jesus as only one part of it.