In high school, I had this habit of consuming ice cream after cheer practice.
My mom would take me to this magical place called Sheridan’s. I’d order a vanilla ice cream—actually, to get technical, a frozen custard—and add rainbow sprinkles and coconut flakes. Delish.
The employees there told me I was the only customer they knew of who ordered this crazy, crunchy combo.
I’ve never really liked just plain ice cream. It needs some texture, ya know? (And also, color.) I need to chew, so I always add something it to make my treat more palatable, more satisfying.
We like to add flavors to our food, and it doesn’t stop there. We also like to add upgrades to our lives.
Hot sauce on a taco. An excursion on an all-inclusive vacation. That pair of shoes to complete your collection.
These extras are not evil. They add spice and style and fun. But sometimes too much spiciness can scald us.
Our consumer culture feeds into our appetites. Our social media feeds fuel our bent toward comparison. We’re sold lies that tell us what we have, and who we are, is somehow incomplete. That we must add what we don’t yet have.
What’s that thing for you right now?
Perhaps … a college degree, another designer bag, a bigger house, a spouse, or something else?
Want to know the narrative that’s been nagging me? I need a baby.
I’ve been married five years, and I’m over 30. We should have a baby by now, right? Then we’ll be complete and satisfied.
I want to explore an idea for a few minutes…
Jesus over everything
I’ve heard this proclamation preached, and a quick Google search shows me it’s also screen-printed on T-shirts for sale right now.
Here’s another idea with a similar sentiment: Jesus + nothing = everything.
It’s a powerful equation. A strong statement. Simple to say; harder to live.
It’s the message the apostle Paul is proclaiming in the book of Colossians. And, specifically, I want to zero in on this passage:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.Colossians 1:15-20
Some context: Paul penned these words from a prison cell. He’s writing to a church community in Colossae, encouraging them in their faith and reminding them about the true identity of Jesus.
They needed reminding because they were battling cultural pressures (and church errors) that were tempting them to turn their focus from Jesus. Sound familiar?
Our current culture, too, can tempt us to compromise our faith, add to it, or cherry-pick and choose what works for us.
At times, I certainly struggle in this area. I tend to slip into a performance mindset, striving to earn God’s favor based on my good behavior (or berating myself when I behave badly).
I’ve heard others tout the power of positive thinking, or make the case that all roads lead to God.
But this poetic passage boldly proclaims that it’s all about Jesus. The Son of God is supreme. And what emerges are two truths:
- Jesus is the Creator.
- Jesus is the Redeemer.
Jesus is Creator
In verses 15-17, Paul is calling out the eternal identity of Jesus:
- He is the image of the invisible God.
- All things have been made through him.
- All things were created for him.
- He is before all things.
- In him all things hold together.
These verses point to the divine nature of Christ. Jesus is fully God and fully human, and he reigns supreme over all creation — the spirit world and the physical world.
The apostle John makes the same claim in his gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made…John 1:1-2
Jesus is the Word. He is the author and king of creation. In fact, creation was made to magnify Jesus, and he holds it all together.
One commentary on Colossians puts it this way: “Reality’s heart beats to the glory of Jesus.” (See: The Bible project)
For me, I love getting that rush of endorphins after exercising.
To stay alive and to feel alive, a beating heart is essential. And this is what Christ does for us. He’s the Sustainer of all life.
He knew you before you were born. You exist because of him, and you are on earth to glorify him.
But because of sin, we are broken. Evil exists, and we cannot save ourselves by simply trying harder or being a better person.
But here’s the best news:
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.John 1:14 (MSG)
God came to earth 2,000+ years ago. He lived, laid down his life, and took it back up again … all because he loves radically and wants to reconcile and redeem. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus, and he made peace through his blood shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20).
Christ paved the way for us to become children of God, so that anyone who surrenders to Christ will be saved.
Jesus is Redeemer
Just as Jesus is the author of creation, he is also bringing about a new creation made possible by his death and resurrection.
Jesus is in the business of making all things new.
Here’s what the Lord spoke through the prophet Ezekiel about the future blessings of God’s people:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
This is what happens when we place our faith in Jesus. We are remade from the inside out. Our hearts begin to beat for the things of God, and we are led and moved by his Spirit.
This process includes a dramatic reworking of our priorities and a invitation to wholeness.
Take Paul’s life. He hated Christians; he passionately persecuted them. But when he had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus, everything changed. Paul received a new heart, a new life, a new purpose, and an eternal place in God’s kingdom.
Paul was single minded in his passion for proclaiming the truth that it’s all about Jesus. It was Jesus over everything for Paul (who endured some pretty horrific circumstances). Paul was sold out, and God worked through him in stunning ways.
I think we all long for transformation. We have a desire for more. We want to do things that matter. We ourselves want to matter.
Yet we can get caught up adding things to our life in an attempt to satisfy, to impress, to become someone. We can buy into messages that tell us we’ll be complete as soon as … we find a fiancé, get a better job, buy the latest gadget, have a baby, have another baby, etc., etc.
But what we’re really longing for is Jesus. He’s our Creator and our Redeemer. He isn’t something we just add to our life. He is life.
He’s the beginning and the end. And He’s lovingly, gently, patiently calling you and me to be ALL IN.
Thanks for reading! I originally wrote this message nearly a year ago for a preaching workshop. I reworked this version a bit to fit better in blog format.
Also … since I wrote this message, a ministry leader I follow renamed her podcast Jesus Over Everything. This recent episode is great and I think fits well with some of the content I share here. Check it out if you’re a podcast person.
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