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Thursday, June 10, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Colossians 1

One of the reasons I appreciate Eugene Peterson’s work so much is that he’s able to balance what are often seen as two completely separate streams. As a former seminary professor who spent a few decades working in a local church, he’s able to blend academic pursuits with the practical implementation of those ideas in “the real world”. That blend is evident in the short introduction he wrote to the book of Colossians.

“… it is quite common,” Peterson begins by noting, “for those who consider [Jesus] truly important to include others who seem to be equally important in his company – Buddha, Moses, Socrates, and Muhammad for a historical start, along with some personal favorites… The Christians in the town of Colosse, or at least some of them, seem to have been taking this line. For them, cosmic forces of one sort or another were getting equal billing with Jesus. [The author of the letter wrote] to them in an attempt to restore Jesus, the Messiah, to the center of their lives.”

For many progressives, that summary statement can be challenging – because we’ve encountered those in the Christian community who portray Jesus as a divisive presence that separates – or cuts us off from one another. Hence, we tend to avoid too much Jesus talk.

That’s not exactly the way the author presents Jesus in today’s passage. “So spacious is he,” the author states, “so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that,” the author continues, “but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals, and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies…” That’s the work of the Jesus I know!

These words provide us with a wonderful opportunity to explore the way we think about this Jesus through whom we experience the fullness of God. How do you see Jesus? Do you view him as a divisive force that pits one group against another; do you see him as an expression of the expansive love and grace of God; or perhaps as something else? What a wonderfully challenging question to sit with today!

Til next time…

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