Jesus Christ “is before all things,” says the apostle Paul to the Colossians, “and in him all things hold together” (1:17).
When it comes to holding things together, Jesus is stickier than Super Glue. Stronger than Gorilla Glue. More lasting than Loctite Ultra Gel. Without him, everything falls apart.
Although it sounds odd, Jesus is the glue. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” says Paul, and “all things have been created through him and for him” (vv. 15-16). Jesus was part of the creation of the world, long before his birth in Bethlehem. As the eternal Son of God, he continues to live and hold everything together with a powerful bond. Jesus is all about adhesion.
Speaking of adhesion, did you hear about the guy who had to quit his job at the Super Glue factory?
He was getting too attached to his coworkers. Really, he couldn’t separate himself from his work.
But seriously, Jesus is the glue. For his followers in Colossae, Jesus was much more than a Jewish rabbi. He was the invisible God in visible flesh and blood. Pastor Rob Bell says that for first-century disciples, He “was the ultimate exposing of what God has been up to all along.” And exactly what was it that God was trying to accomplish through Jesus? “Unity,” says Bell. “Unity. To all things. God is putting the world back together, and God is doing this through Jesus.”
Jesus is sticky, working to put a shattered world back together. Paul says that it is through Jesus that God is “pleased to reconcile to himself all things” (v. 20). Through Jesus, God is restoring broken relationships – between people and God, as well as between estranged individuals. God is working for unity through Jesus, holding everything together.
Paul also says that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church” (v. 18). He is stuck to us in the same way that a head is attached to a body, and He wants us to be His hands and feet in the world. As people who are the body of Christ in the world today, our challenge is to take our cues from the one who is our head. To be responsive to Christ’s leading. To follow Jesus with great devotion. To give him “first place in everything” (v. 18). In other words, to have adhesive faith.
“Adhesiveness” is a huge issue in the world of technology today, and it has nothing to do with Gorilla Glue or Loctite Ultra Gel. No, adhesiveness is the way that digital platforms keep us glued to their content.
For example, if you watch a video on YouTube, or if you “like” a post on Facebook, you will be offered another and another. These companies make their money from keeping you engaged, so they are always working to increase their adhesiveness.
“The longer we stick around,” says a writer named Ayad Akhtar – on YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, or The New York Times app – “the deeper we scroll, the greater the yield of information, the more effective the influence.” Adhesiveness is everything. “In fact,” he says, “the platforms have been built, and are still being optimized, to keep us glued, to keep us engaged.”
This is kind of scary, isn’t it?
When HBO was acquired by AT&T, the CEO said to his employees, “We need hours a day.” He was talking about the hours a day that he wants their customers to be glued to HBO. “I want more hours of engagement,” he said to them. And then he admitted that hours are important for one reason: “Because you get more data and information about a customer.” HBO, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are in a race to increase their adhesiveness. They want us to be stuck to them so that they can gain our data, our information and our money. Adhesiveness is central to business today – something we all need to keep in mind, every time we look at our smartphone, computer or television. But what about adhesive faith?
That’s not scary at all. In fact, it can be life-changing. Jesus desires the same type of engagement from us, but for much better reasons.
In the world of digital marketing, success comes from getting people to look at your website. An “eyeball” is a visit to a site, so to get a lot of eyeballs is to get a lot of visits.
Jesus wants your eyes on Him, especially as He is revealed through Scripture. In Colossians, the apostle Paul says that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (v. 15). This means that if you want to see the face of God, look to Jesus. If you want to understand the will of God, listen to the words of Jesus. If you want to receive the guidance of God, follow Jesus. If you want to feel the love of God, move closer to Jesus.
Doug Britton, a marriage and family therapist, admits that it is hard to grasp the character of Almighty God when you look at the Bible. “And when you first read about some of the things God did in the Old Testament, it’s easy to be confused or critical of Him.”
For this reason, Britton is glad that Jesus walked the earth, fully human and fully divine. “We can learn a lot about God’s character,” he writes, “by looking at Jesus’ words and life.” Jesus came as a servant. He loved everyone, both rich and poor. He even loved those who were going to kill Him. And He loves each and every one of us.
Jesus has “first place in everything,” according to Paul. In everything. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (vv. 18-19). This means that all our understandings of the Bible should be passed through the filter of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We should try to see the world through His eyes, understand the will of God as He did, walk the path that He walked, and love the people that He loved.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God.
Jesus would probably agree with that HBO executive who said, “We need hours a day” – but not because He wants to obtain our data and information. Jesus desires hours of work done with honesty and integrity. Hours of attentiveness to family members and friends. Hours for worship and study and prayer and service.
David Miller is a theologian and businessman who has studied the ways that people practice their faith at work. He has found that workers of all types, “whether data entry clerks or senior executives, are no longer content to leave their souls in the parking lot. Businesspeople today want to find moral meaning and purpose in their work.”
The desire of such workers is “to live an integrated life, where faith teachings and workplace practices are aligned.” And the key, he finds, is to live according to a word found in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word avodah. The root of the word means “work and worship,” as well as “service.” It holds together our desire to do well and to do good. When we put hours into avodah, our work can earn us a living, while also honoring God and serving our neighbors.
Christian faith is not a spectator sport, but rather a life of active worship and service. Jesus wants our faith to be stronger than epoxy glue. He wants us to make him “first place in everything” (v. 18).
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul encourages us to give thanks with joy to God the Father, who has enabled us “to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (v. 12). Our thanksgiving is expressed first in worship, because God “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (vv. 13-14).
Inheritance. Rescue. Redemption. Forgiveness. Clearly, God has engaged us by bringing us into the kingdom of His Son. We return this engagement through active thanksgiving.
We then strengthen our connection through consistent Christian service, acting as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. This can include feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, as well as teaching children and mentoring teenagers. As we do this, Paul predicts that we will be “made strong with all the strength that comes from [God’s] glorious power, [and] prepared to endure everything with patience” (v. 11). The good news is that our engagement in service does not have to lead to burnout, because we are promised strength and patience in the face of every challenge.
Eyeballs, hours, engagement. These are not just words from the world of online business. Instead, they are keys to the practice of adhesive faith. When we stick to Jesus in this way, we are given strength, endurance, and forgiveness. We remain connected to the one who shows us the face of God and holds all things together.