Skip to main content

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

Employment
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.
                        Redeeming.
                        Forgiving.
                        Reconciling.
                        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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What Do You Call a Group of Theologians?

I think the answer should be "an argument", but perhaps that's unfair. I can test my theory this next week, which sees the start of the annual Society for the Study of Theology (UK) conference on the theme of Holy Writ? (The question mark is very suggestive). It looks really good, and the list of plenary speakers is great: Alex Samely (Manchester); Morwenna Ludlow (Exeter); Henk van den Belt (Amsterdam); Walter Moberly (Durham); Anthony Thiselton (Nottingham); Hugh Pyper (Sheffield). The conference lasts several days and is convening this year at York University. I hope to be able to blog a few thoughts from the conference and some info about the plenary sessions, but I shall be presenting a paper at one of the themed seminars on Wednesday afternoon on the interpretation of Barth's ethics of responsibility so may be a bit distracted until then. So watch this space for more info...

Barth on defining the authority of scripture, and issues in the Anglican communion

Barth is notorious, particularly amongst evangelical scholars, for his view of the authority of scripture. He is right, I think, to argue that scripture's 'authority' is relative to the authority of Christ. This is precisely why his threefold definition of the Word does not privilege scripture, but acknowledges its principal witness to the 'wordiness' of Jesus (John 1 - a passage of which Barth was very fond). Where I think his approach to scripture becomes more complicated, and difficult to understand, is in passages relating to moral authority, such as this one: All biblical imperatives - and we do not say this to impugn the authority of the Bible but to define it - are addressed to others, and not to us, and they are addressed to others who differ greatly among themselves, to the people of Israel in different situations, to the disciples of Jesus, to the first Christian churches of Jews and Gentiles. Their concreteness is that of a specific then and there...This

Getting by without God?

I am now a few years into the life of an ordained minister, and have been taking some time over the last couple of weeks to reflect on the things that have happened, and to revisit some of what I thought was going to happen. This has been a complicated affair, but helpful. As part of my reflections I have been rereading a book by John Pritchard, now bishop of Oxford, which I read when I was exploring my own sense of vocation to ordained ministry. It is called "The Life and Work of a Priest" (London: SPCK, 2007). I was caught short a bit this week when I read the following description: I once went on retreat and was met by a little bundle of holy energy who showed me to my room. I thought I better start in prayer but as I knelt before a crucifix in the room I began to feel worse and worse. I realised that I needed to do a lot of soul-searching. I knew that over the years I had accumulated quite a lot of experience of priestly ministry. I knew about pastoral ministry and missio