I've heard the adage, "Now you see it, now you don't," but I never knew it worked the other way around. Usually, this saw is quoted by magicians who are using some sleight of hand, making some relatively insignificant object "disappear." But while these illusionists are making things disappear, our text for today from Colossians 1 is all about something that has appeared. It is a case of, "Now you don't see it, now you do!" And the thing that has appeared is not insignificant. No, it is infinitely valuable.
"Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (verse 15). Many biblical scholars believe that these words constitute an ancient Christian hymn, here quoted by Paul, written to confute a proto-Gnostic heresy which claimed that the spiritual and invisible was inherently good while the material and visible was inherently evil. To such a claim, this hymn declares that the God of the universe, though once spiritual and invisible, became visible and physical in Christ. And the visible Christ is certainly not evil. He is perfect! "Now you don't see it, now you do!"
The Greek word for "image" in verse 15 is eikon, from which we get our English word "icon." Christ makes the God "no one has ever seen" (John 1:18), visible, corporal, and knowable. Indeed, this is precisely what we celebrate this time of year: That the invisible God became visible as a baby in a manger on his way to being a Savior on a cross, as Paul later says, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (verses 21-22). Notice that Christ's seeable, knowable, physical body is that which saves us. What we once did not see, we now see.
People all too often make a sharp distinction between their normal lives and their spiritual lives. Your normal life is what you do Monday through Saturday, at work and at home, with family and friends. Consequently, your spiritual life gets relegated to an hour on Sunday, when you worship an invisible Deity who remains relatively detached and aloof from your everyday life. But this was never God's intention. God never meant for us to have a "normal life" and a "spiritual life." Instead, God, who is spiritual, descended into our normal, physical lives in Christ so that everything we do in our normal, physical lives could be done with God. In other words, everything we do is spiritual!
Today, as you go about your "normal" business, do you do so with an awareness that everything you do is done in God's presence? Do you do so with an awareness that everything you do has profound spiritual significance? Everything you do - from the way you love your spouse to the way you raise your children to the integrity that you maintain at work - is spiritual. Your "spiritual life" is not just found in Bible readings, prayers, and worship services, it is found in everything. Your spiritual life is your normal, everyday life, for God is in your normal, everyday life. God is not invisible anymore. He has come in Jesus.