Reclaiming Jesus

2009, 44 pp
Colossians 3:12-17 have the power to shape a church’s relationships, among its members and within its social context as it seeks to engage the world with the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ. As theme verses for Mennonite Church Canada, these words have the power to shape our identity as individuals and as a church if we keep them before us and lean into them in our daily living. These words can help us reclaim and wear the Jesus™ proudly.

How can these words from the small, ancient letter of Colossians be so potent? As Ernest Martin says in his commentary, “Colossians is high-voltage material.” It is short, with accessible and impressive imagery. Colossians discusses theology, not in an academic way, but by understanding God’s actions through Christ. The greatest help we receive from Colossians is Paul’s strategy of encouragement to grow in Christ. Indeed, more than anything else, Colossians is about Christ (Martin: 226). Jesus, the Christ, relates to us as individuals and as people in communities.

Do our congregations wear and present the Jesus™ faithfully? Wearing, and living into, the image of Jesus means becoming reconciled with God, in whose image we have been created, personally and corporately. It is a dual process where both our personal and communal characters are made new in Christ; where we are freed from our prior reality of separateness from God, ourselves, and others. Old habits and behaviours are transformed as we are changed on the inside. As we reclaim the lordship of Jesus in our lives and congregations, our conduct and our Christian ethics extend beyond the realm of private morality and decisions about right and wrong, to a focus on the Christcentered community of faith as the locus for moral discernment and support. Both our individual character and our communities of faith are made new in Christ. Therefore, the theme of Assembly 2009, which began our journey with this text, was Living Inside Out. For this year, 2010, our journey with Colossians 3:12-17 will focus on what it means to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (v.17). The Assembly 2010 theme will be Reclaiming the Jesus™ Brand. Living into this identity is challenging. We cannot do it without the help of God’s Holy Spirit and participation in a church “that is characterized by a conscious, diligent, and humble attempt at living a life which is ordered by the confession that Jesus—the one from God—is Lord over our lives.” (Huebner/Schroeder: 180).

May we rediscover and reclaim the uniqueness and superiority of Jesus Christ and the gospel as we encounter the intimate, communal, and yet cosmic Christ we see in this segment of the letter to the Colossians. If we do, we will not keep this good news to ourselves, but will reclaim the ancient, yet ever new, name and mission of the church that is called to engage the world with this reconciling and renewing gospel of Jesus Christ.

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