[#pictureLent] Feb. 23: Jesus Changes Everything

By Brett Opalinski
Christ UMC, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read Colossians 1:15-17

Perhaps the most radical passage in the Bible is this, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation ... all things are created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16, CEB).

These words change everything; all we can know of God and creation is revealed in Jesus. If we want to know how God loves, look at Jesus. If we want to know what is important to God, look at Jesus. If we want to see how God treats those who are broken, rejected, sinners, or self-righteous all we have to do is look at Jesus.

All things, all people, are made in Jesus and for Jesus. This must change the way we see the world.

I have heard too many Christians give into bitterness, despair, and fear citing quotes about the world falling apart and “going to hell in a hand basket”. They become defensive and act defeated. If we Christians can’t live with a lasting hope, a joy that is deeper than happiness, and an eye for God’s beauty in the midst of life (even the broken places), why should others believe us about any “good news”?

No, we must see the world not with anger and fear, but with the eyes and the heart of Jesus, for it all belongs to him.

This must change the way we see God.

I know many people who see God as an angry parent waiting to punish, or a Santa Claus to reward. For others, God is distant and removed, waiting for people to get their act together before having anything to do with them. For some, God is partisan, justifying their own positions and ways of life.

When we claim that Jesus reveals God, we say that all of these are lies. In Jesus we meet a God whose priority is love, who won’t be controlled or made into our image, and who doesn’t wait passively for people to reach out first.

This must change the way we live our lives.

Jesus said this throughout his ministry, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s Kingdom! Change your hearts and lives and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:15, CEB) To follow God’s will we must do it with a heart of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. We must see the possibility and not just the depravity in people. We must take the way of a servant, and humble ourselves to see the poor not as projects but children of God. It means that we can no longer dismiss people with the title “enemy,” but they toomust be brought into the circle of God’s love.

This is radical stuff. If we really hear these words of Colossians 1, it should bring us to our knees. Jesus reveals God to us ... and then asks us to change our lives, our theologies, and our worldviews. Discipleship is not an easy business, but it will lead us to the heart of God, and that is our Lenten journey.

Prayer: God, forgive me for the times I have missed you in the radical way and message of Jesus. Forgive me when I have tried to define you according to my terms and my preferences. Forgive me when I have been stubborn and resistant. I trust this good news that in Jesus I see you. When life comes fast, and other things try to define you...help me return to Jesus, in my heart and in my life. You have revealed yourself, O God. Help me now to see. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the qualities/characteristics of Jesus that most stand out to you?
  2. What do they say to you about God?
  3. How do they ask you to change your life, your worldview, your theology?