Here in America we emphasize equal rights and fairness. Nobody gets special privileges because of where or to whom they were born. Nobody gets to cut to the front of the line. If you get to pick first today, it’s only fair that I get to pick first tomorrow. It’s a level playing field for everybody, because nobody is better than or more privileged than anyone else. It’s a great system.
The problem comes when we transfer this way of seeing to the Creator of the universe. We sing, “Jesus is my friend.” And he is. We celebrate that “Jesus is the servant of all.” And he is.
But he is not our equal. He is superior in every way.
John makes that clear with the opening words of his gospel: “…and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus may have been human like we are, but he is divine, like we will never be.
Colossians 1:18 tries to tell us that Jesus is supreme and superior to us, but I’m not sure we get it. Paul says, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” What does that mean?
It means he’s first. He’s privileged. If he were to reach an intersection at the same time we did, or after we did, he has the right of way. If we got to a doorway at the same time, we would not only let him go first, we would bow down before him, take off our jackets and ask him to walk on them.
Not very American. Not close to politically correct. But right, and true – because he IS superior to us in every way, and he earned our worship with his merits at the Cross.
One reason New Song is a Jesus-First church is because Jesus really is first:
- He was Mary’s firstborn son (Luke 2:7).
- He is the firstborn among all brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29).
- He is the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).
- He is the firstborn among the dead (Colossians 1:18).
- He is the firstborn from the dead (Revelation 1:5).
- He is the first and the last (Revelation 1:17).
- He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).
- He is the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13).
- He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16).
- Every knee in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow before him (Philippians 2:10).
If that’s who he is for all eternity, then I think we ought to be treating him that way now. What do you think?
I ought to have no problem getting on my knees before him every morning. I ought to instinctively worship him, reverently defer to him, gratefully submit to him, perpetually yield my rights to him, purposefully align my agenda to his, and intentionally live the way he wants me to live. Because Jesus is first! So far above me that I don’t even dare say I’m a distant second. I am his creation, his son, his subject, his servant, his forgiven follower, and for reasons only fathomable in the halls of heaven, the object of his affection.
Jesus is first because he is first.
What does that mean to you, and how will that affect the way you live today?
Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.
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