This coming Sunday we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, the one who reigns over “things visible and invisible.” That classic expression from the Nicene Creed covers a lot, but it does remind us that we live as people surrounded by all manner of powers: secular, cultural, familial, demonic, and the list goes on. At some point I am sure each one of us wishes that Christ the King would reign a little more concretely over all those other powers visible and not. But perhaps the core intrinsic value of the Reign of God is love. And love always has to be a free choice. I just might be that for us to truly love, part of that commitment is to give up our freedom such that we have no choice at all except Jesus.The people in Colossae are faced with some of the same problems we face: the cultural pressures of living in a world filled with visible rulers and invisible powers/temptations.St. Paul reminds the people that they have been redeemed to live with forgiveness, honor, and generosity. And Jesus never uses fear, coercion, or exploitation to establish his authority on Earth. It is always our choice to accept the invitation.
He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He 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, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven. And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister. (Col 1:13-23)
We have been redeemed and now unburdened to choose the “hope of the gospel” – but in making that choice, we are committing to live in a manner consistent with that hope
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)
And in this way the Reign of God becomes visible in our world.
If you’d like to explore more about the Letter to the Colossians, I would encourage you to watch this short video from the good folks at The Bible Project.