A sermon by Michael Pahl on July 21, 2019, called “The Gospel Is for All Creation,” reflecting on Colossians 1:15-29. It is the second in our summer series on “Colossians: The Fullness of the Gospel.”
Here is a written excerpt:
In Colossians 1 we have two mentions of the word “gospel,” or “good news,” one near the beginning of the chapter and one near the end. In Colossians 1:5 Paul describes “the gospel” as “the “word of truth.” In Colossians 1:25 Paul describes “the gospel” as “the word of God.” The “gospel” is God’s “good news,” the true message from God that produces the fruit of faith and hope and love in the way of Jesus, as we talked about last week.
Sandwiched between these references to “the gospel” at the outer edges of Colossians 1 is a description of what this good news from God involves, with words like “rescue” and “redemption” and “forgiveness” and “reconciliation” and Christ’s “kingdom.” And right in the middle of this chapter is a fresh declaration of this “gospel,” presented in a rather remarkable way.
Colossians 1:15-20 is a poem. In fact, it’s a poem that is a hymn, a hymn of praise to Christ. And it’s a poem that tells a story, a story centred on Jesus.
The story behind the poem goes something like this:
God has created all things, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Humans and animals and plants and stars and planets and atoms and quarks. Human societies and communities, and all the ways we organize ourselves and distribute power for the good of all: called “thrones” and “dominions” and “rulers” and “powers.” All these things, everything that exists, has come into being by God, through Christ and for Christ, an expression of love spilling out from within God.
But humans have acted in ways that distort God’s purposes and harm others and damage God’s creation, and so we dishonour God. And this is not just an individual problem: through our human structures and systems—those “thrones” and “dominions” and “rulers” and “powers”—we have collectively caused even greater harm to others and even greater damage to God’s creation.
We need things to be made right again. We need a “rescue,” we need “redemption,” we need “reconciliation” for us and the whole created world, to be brought back in line with God’s first intentions, in harmony with God, with one another, with all creation.
So God became human in Christ, with all God’s fullness dwelling in Jesus, and Jesus lived and died and came to life again, so that through Christ all things—not just individuals, but us collectively, our human structures and systems—and not just humans, but “every creature under heaven”—through Christ all things can be brought to this harmony of shalom.
This is the gospel, the “word of truth,” the “word of God,” in a poem-hymn-story. It is the good news story of Jesus, that God has acted in Jesus to make right everything that has gone wrong in creation because of human sin.