Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Did you have a favourite poem growing up? Mine was a ridiculous Spike Milligan number called ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’. Whenever I was asked to recite a poem (it happened more often than you might expect), I would immediately start reeling it off. Even now, aged 29, it still lives rent free in my head.
Poems – and songs – often stick in our head more easily than large volumes of text, and can be very formational. I guess that’s why we try to teach our kids so much about God in the form of song.
But what does ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ have to do with Colossians? Unsurprisingly, not much. Except one thing: today’s passage was originally a poem. It doesn’t translate very well into English (no rhyming couplets here!), but I’m reliably informed that in the original Greek it is, in fact, a poem.
And, unless the apostle Paul had a strange affinity with Spike Milligan, it’s unlikely he was writing nonsense poems for fun, so it’s safe to assume he was keen that people remember it.
So, this passage is important. It’s so important, in fact, that much of the rest of Colossians is explaining and expanding upon these five verses, this short poem.
And what does it tell us?
It tells us that if we want to know who God is, we need to look at Jesus. It tells us that all things were created in Christ Jesus. It tells us that Jesus is the one who holds together the old and the new creation, and that he is the example of what it means to be genuinely human.
Basically, it tells us that Jesus matters. Jesus is Lord.
The key message of the book of Colossians is summed up in this passage.
Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is Lord over everything – after all, all things were created in him.
But it’s not just the physical creation around us that we can see, but all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. All were created through Jesus and for Jesus. And that means that everything that we do matters – it matters to God, and it should matter to us, too.
That means, then, that ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ matters to God. Reciting our favourite poem matters to God. Our to-do list and our chores, our nappy changes, and our business meetings… it all matters.
Associate Speaker for LICC and Church & Theology Executive at International Justice Mission