Putting Christ First
We live in selfie-land today, all. But when life is focused on self, we are miserable. Putting Christ first in our lives helps life to fall into place. We are doing what we were made to do.
Putting Christ First Helps us to Overcome Drama
Life is hard, friends. When we get distracted by life’s drama we need to remember who we are in Christ. Don’t be pulled away, friends. When we put Christ first and everything else makes sense. This life is not about having a perfectly comfortable life, but it is all about Jesus and glorifying Him in this life that we are given. Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters.
Lessons from Prison
We are starting a new book today—the book of Colossians. Paul has some lessons for us about having our lives centered around Christ.
This is one of Paul’s prison epistles likely written while he was imprisoned in Rome. He wrote this letter to the church at Colossae.
Colossae is a part of modern day Turkey today. The church at Colossae was made up mostly of Gentiles. Epaphras visited Paul in prison and told Paul how the church at Colossae was listening to false teachers.
From the Easy English Bible Commentary:
“Paul wrote more about Christ in this letter than in any other of his letters. He reminded the Christians that their past life had gone. Christ was now their life. Christ had made them free from rules and evil powers. Paul then went on to teach the Christians how to live this new life.”
As part of Paul’s initial greeting in this letter, Colossians 1 opens up with Paul encouraging the church at Colossae and thanking God for the Colossian’s faith in God.
Putting Christ First in our Prayers
And then Paul writes a beautiful prayer for spiritual growth for the Colossians that really got me thinking about how we pray for one another.
How do we pray for one another, friends? So often we pray for our troubles to be over. For health problems and healing. Or for financial situations to be fixed. Relationships mended. We pray for life to be easy. Discomfort gets our attention, doesn’t it?
But Paul is asking for spiritual growth for the church at Colossae. This convicts me to the core. Sometimes our prayer time can become a list of wants, can’t it?
We want blessings for loved ones and the removal of pain. But do we pray for their spiritual well-being? And do so constantly as Paul describes his intercession on behalf of the church at Colossae?
A Higher Prayer
“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that: you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience,
joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Do we pray in this way for others?
Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters. People need to be close to Christ—this is our joy—not a perfect life or temporary happiness in this world.
Sometimes a comfortable life pulls us away from God. Spiritual growth is necessary so we can live lives worthy. Paul shifts to then talk about the centrality of Christ. Everything in this life is about Him—not us. And when we order our lives around Christ first, before all things, life makes so much more sense than when we order our lives around self.
Putting Christ First Because He Is First
Christ is first whether or not we make Him first.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, 17 “He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” 18 “He is also 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.”
Is Christ first in your life, friends? Really stop and consider this question. What or who is first in your life? I would take it a step further and ask, is Christ your life? You see, sometimes I can try to make my life into what I want from it. We can become angry or sad when life does not turn out like we think it should. But this is idolatry.
Putting Christ First Means Everything is Under His Authority.
We no longer live. Christ lives in us. My life is not about me anymore.
First in my life can be goals in my lie or hopes in this life. But when these hopes and goals come underneath Christ coming first, then we seek God’s glory and purposes, and not our own as we seek to do His will.
This is a cataclysmic shift from self to Christ.
Instead of having me first and my desires, do I want Christ first in all of my life?
My prayer for my children becomes about them having Christ first more than having all the things I want for them.
My prayer for my success becomes a prayer for God’s will.
Scripture of the Day: Colossians 1:19-20
“19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
God came to live as a man so we could know Him and be reconciled. Not so we could then live this life apart from Him.
Draw near, friends! Draw near to the One Who loves you more than anyone. Don’t let the enemy of our souls lie to you about how loved you are in Christ. Just because life is hard does not mean you are not the apple of His eye.
Let us not forget our condition before Christ!
As it says in Colossians 1:21-23
“21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him— 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”
Friends, we need to pray for one another that we don’t shift away from God.
Shifting happens by degrees.
The flesh is relentless and demands first place. But when we keep Christ first, life makes sense and confusion disappears. In Colossians 2:2-3 Paul describes what he longs for the church to have:
“I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. 3 In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Life is hard, friends. Yet Paul describes rejoicing in suffering because he sees what suffering produces. Paul prays for encouragement, love, a complete understanding of Christ.
This is what we need in this life. To know Christ. More than anything else. And the enemy wants to keep us from this life hack or secret—Christ alone and above all else is our highest joy and purpose in this life.
Life’s pain can distract us from Christ being first
Lack of knowledge because we are not in God’s word can distract us from Christ being first. Discouragement can keep us from the joy we can have in Christ. Don’t be pulled away, friends. Put Christ first and everything else makes sense.
In the remainder of Colossians 2, Paul warns the church at Colossae to choose Christ over the Colossian heresy. The false teachers believed that they had special knowledge and wisdom. They taught people how to understand this secret wisdom. But the false teachers did not believe and trust the true God.
Putting Christ First Helps Us to Recognize Lies
Friends, when we know the truth and make it our ambition to know Christ more, we recognize a lie more readily. Deception cannot cloud our vision when we choose Christ first and as our whole life.
Like bank tellers recognize counterfeit bills by being so well acquainted with genuine bills, we need to know Christ more so we can recognize all of the counterfeit idols in our life.
“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, 7 being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ. 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
Christ is In Us
Did you catch that, friends? We have been filled by the One Who is Lord over all. Remember who you are and what God has done in you.
“20 If you died with Christ to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations?”
There were religious rules that people were making to try and get the new believers to revert to legalism rather than grace. Sometimes distractions are sin and sometimes distractions are seemingly good things.
Our faith is not rules – it is relationship.
Don’t let anything distract you from Christ.
- When we get distracted by life’s drama we need to remember who we are in Christ. (Colossians 2:12-15 reminds us of our heritage and who we are).
- Don’t be pulled away, friends. Put Christ first and everything else makes sense.
- This life is not about having a perfectly comfortable life, but it is all about Jesus and glorifying Him in this life that we are given.
- Life takes its toll on us and we can forget what really matters.
- Spiritual growth is necessary so we can live lives worthy.
- Let’s pray for one another that we would become more like Christ.
- And may Christ not just be first in our lives—may He be our life!
7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan
Day #196: Colossians 1-2
Scripture of the Day: Colossians 1:19-20
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