He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. (Colossians 1:15–18, ESV)
for, "In him we live and move and have our being . . ." (Acts 17:28a, ESV)One time I was talking with someone about a relationship that seemed hopeless. I told them, basically, that I didn't need to know anything about them to know fully that the relationship could succeed—and not just "make it," but be amazing. I could say this without knowing them because I know God, and I know what He can do. The key is, were they willing to elevate God in their hearts to the place He deserves?* I'll explain this in a moment.
Ephesians and Colossians are probably two of my favorite books in the Bible. One of the main reasons is the exaltation of God and His mighty plans and His mystery that pervades them. As one author pointed out, so many of us tend to treat the story of God as if it began in Genesis 3 with the Fall . . . as if it began with us. That is the message we share, the story we tell. We begin with how man is separated from God, etc. But, God's story the world needs to hear begins even before Genesis 1, "In the beginning, God . . ." God is the beginning of the story. In the beginning He already was. Ephesians tells us that before even the foundation of the world the cross was in His plan. His story doesn't begin with Christmas, or even the Garden. Before the foundation of the world . . . He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is outside of time itself. The story begins with God, not with man. It is far, far bigger than us.
In the Colossians passage above it says that, "For by him all things were created . . . all things were created through him and for him." He created all things, and He created them for Himself. We were created by Christ, and for Christ. And that is the basis of His claim on our life. I have no claim on your life. No pastor or person has a claim on your life. But, your Creator does. He made you and I. And He made us for Himself. That is the claim He has on our life, and in that context we can easily see the rebellion in us when we make a claim on our own life. We are His—by Him, and for Him.
The passage then goes on to say, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." How does a marriage hold together? In Christ. How does a family hold together? In Christ. How is the earth itself, and everything in it held together? In Christ. How do we find our purpose and meaning in life? In Christ. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. That is why I don't need to even know a person's background to know that in Christ they can be whole, in Christ a marriage can flourish, in Christ people can be set free, in Christ any life—no matter its past—can be rich with meaning and purpose. Because in Christ all things hold together. That isn't to say there aren't challenges, and oftentimes a lot of healing, etc., but in Christ all is possible because in Christ all things hold together.
The Acts passage above comes from Paul, explaining to the learned men of Athens the "unknown God" they'd made an altar to, among their other gods. He told them, ". . . what therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth . . ." (Acts 17:23b–26a, ESV) He then went on to say of God, "In him we live and move and have our being . . ." In Christ, all things hold together. In Him we live and move and have our being.
The Colossians passage I quoted above ends with, "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." He is the head of the body, the church. That is us. Believers. Why? That in everything He might be preeminent. First. Above all. The highest.
He is Christ. All things were created by Him. All things were created for Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. All things hold together in Him. That in all things He might be preeminent. That is the exaltation of Christ. That is His place. Preeminent.
No matter what situation we are in. No matter what obstacles we face in relationships, etc. If Christ is preeminent in the hearts of the people involved I believe that we can have great hope of great things. The limitations are in us, not in Him (and the exciting part is that His Word promises that He is at work in us, bringing His work to completion!). In Him all things hold together. The question is if we are willing to give Him preeminence. To kneel before Him. To lay aside our claim on our life and give Him His rightful claim as our Creator and Lord. To surrender. To step off the throne of our life and let Him have that place. To give up our rights to be "right," to be apologize to, to be loved back, to make our own plans, to dictate our own terms, etc. To give to Christ our rights.
The most amazing part is that while, as Creator, He has every right to sit in Heaven and make those claims on us, He didn't. Before the foundation of the earth He had the plan in place to surrender His rights as God, to humble Himself, to love us before we loved Him, to meet us 100% of the way before we traveled 1% of the way. Everything He asks of us He did before us, for us. And He did it as our Creator!
He then steps back and waits. He quietly asks, "Will you let me be preeminent?" It is His rightful place—and He is preeminent in the big picture regardless of our decision—but He lets us choose that for each of our lives.
* This comment/belief is not an excuse to not invest heavily in another's life. Too often we throw a few verses at people because we are unwilling to get "dirty" and invested, or because we are uncomfortable and don't know what to say or do. I believe we are called to invest deeply and long term in other's lives, but I have also found that if the issue of the preeminence of Christ is not settled in a couple's heart, or anyone else's heart, then rarely are the changes long term. All I have to offer anyone, really, is Christ. Once Christ is preeminent in a life then I can offer a lot of love, support, and help in determining Christ's heart for them and His counsel and Words. But, in the end I can only say, "You need to do this (or not do this) because Christ says it." Ultimately it is our surrender to Him that will be that which moves us.