By Kevin Phipps
In the winter we miss the sun. In the summer we soak up every available ray. The sun is marvelous. Its circumference is over 2,700,000 miles. How big is that? You could line up 109 Earths across the face of the sun. The sun is the largest and the most massive object in our solar system, but it is just a medium-sized star in the Milky Way galaxy. How many stars are in the Milky Way? Astronomers estimate there are around 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. But wait, that is just one galaxy. The low estimate for the number of galaxies is 100 billion.
Why billions and billions of stars? In the hymn of Colossians chapter 1, we learn that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.(Colossians 1:16-17).”
Paul’s point is that Christ is preeminent (Colossians 1:18). So whether it is the vastness of the cosmos or the practically innumerable number of species of insects on the planet, all of creation is meant to point to the one who is preeminent over it all. Verse 20 of Colossians chapter 1 declares that the preeminent one entered into space and time and died on a cross to reconcile the corrupted created order to its creator:
“…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).”
Reconciliation means to bring together opposing parties. In some way, sin has corrupted all of creation. The heavens still tell of the glory of God, but it’s muffled praise because of the fall. All of creation is in bondage to corruption (Romans 8:21). Creation needs reconciliation for its designed purpose of telling of the greatness of Christ. The cross of Christ alone accomplished cosmic reconciliation.
Thinking about the greatness of Christ as the reconciler of the created order is not an abstract exercise, but it can feel like one. The thought of unknown galaxies created for the glory of Christ and the truth that those undiscovered galaxies are reconciled to God through the cross of Christ are mind-blowing. But if we’re honest, on most days, such thoughts are light-years away from the world we inhabit. Paul doesn’t leave reconciliation in a galaxy far, far away. He makes it personal. He goes from the cosmic scale of the Christ hymn to applying the reconciliation accomplished by the cross to believers. He goes from cosmic reconciliation to personal reconciliation. From light-years away to the Christian’s experience of being reconciled to Christ:
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister (Colossians 1:21-23).”
Paul wants us to attach the reconciliation of the cosmos and the reconciliation of God’s elect to the glory of Christ. The cross has given us fresh eyes to see the glory of Christ all around us, and it gives us longing for when that glory will be fully revealed. So having been reconciled to God and hoping in the gospel, take some time and read Colossians chapter one and then maybe watch some 4k video footage from Mars and ponder the glory of Christ. Read Colossians chapter one again, and enjoy a couple more weeks of lake days, rock hunting, backyard grilling, cutting grass, late sunsets, roasting marshmallows, and firefly catching, all for the glory of Christ.