Tuesday, 17 January 2012

If Jesus had a CV...

I'm leading a Bible study on this passage tomorrow night -- the first meeting of our new home group! I'm very excited, and really enjoying preparing the study notes.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
I've been pondering different ways of approaching a text like this, and I think I may have settled on one novel way to get people thinking. It revolves around the observation that we live in a world slightly obsessed by the need to prove oneself. I suspect it might be a counterbalance to the culture of the late 90s and early 2000s when people appeared on TV and were given celebrity status but nobody was quite sure how or why. There is an undercurrent that requires people to be somehow deserving in order to be worthy of our attention. 

One way we prove our worth is by telling stories about ourselves. Most of us do this for work purposes: I am always being encouraged to keep on top of and expand my CV so that I am employable in the future. This kind of makes sense. But it's not just a workplace issue -- many times I've seen a kind of competativeness in Church, a holy point-scoring, that is often the result of pastoral failure: clergy simply haven't made people feel valued for their contributions to the life of the community, so members of the congregation feel the need to make themselves stand out. I will often be given a long list of all the things someone has been and has done in church over the last 25 years or whatever, and then there is a pregnant pause when they (rightly it seems to me) await at least a minor gesture of recognition. This is obviously profoundly unhelpful for Chirstian discipleship in the long term, even if it can be given a sensible explanation in the short term. In the middle of that thought, I got to wondering what Jesus' CV might look like:

Name:       Messiah or Christ. Son of the Living God.
DOB:         Before All Worlds. Firstborn of all creation.
Address:    Right Hand of the Father

History:           Head of the Body, the Church.
                         Image of the invisible God.                    
                         Firstborn from the dead.
                         King of kings.
                         Lord of lords.
                         Maker of heaven and earth.
                         Creator of all things, visible and invisible.
                         The Beginning.

Key Skills:     Rescuing.
                        Making sinners holy, blameless, and irreproachable.

It's an overwhelming passage in many respects: the nice domesticated Jesus I meet in many Christian meetings, and hear about in many sermons, is a lot lot bigger than most of us imagine day to day. If this CV landed in your inbox you might rightly feel uncomfortable about interviewing such a candidate: problem is, this is the BOSS's CV. We're not interviewing Him, He is calling us. And there's the real point of value and worth that Colossians seems to want us to reflect upon: our lives are remakable and worthy because God first counts them as such, in sending His Son to transfer us from darkness to His marvellous light. It is because of Jesus' selfless love for us that human beings are worthy of the utmost respect and care. There's is nothing we can do that is more important than what He has done; nothing can improve on it, and nothing can lessen its power.

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