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Summary: Christ is the Head of the Church.

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Who's In Charge Here?

Colossians 1:16-18

At a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the various sections of eleven major symphony orchestras perceived each other. The percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing, yet fun loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. The orchestra members overwhelmingly chose "loud" as the primary adjective to describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical. Interesting findings, to say the least! With such widely divergent personalities and perceptions, how could an orchestra ever come together to make such wonderful music? The answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other, they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor. Under his guidance, they play beautiful music. (Today in the Word, June 22, 1992)

What the scholars found to be true of the leading orchestras in the nation can be said of the leading teams in each sport, the leading businesses in each field, the leading schools in each district, and believe it or not, the leading churches in corner of the world. What is the key to success? Is it qualified, intelligent employees? A well thought out plan? A solid financial base? Sound methods? No, these all are important components, but the key to success is subordinating oneself to the vision and plan of the leader.

Think of the leaders in each of the categories I mentioned earlier. When you think of the leader in software development around the world, Microsoft, what comes to mind? Bill Gates of course. When you think of the leading college football team in the nation over the past decade, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, what do you think of? The type of offense they run? Their team colors? No, you think of Tom Osborne, the head coach. When we stop to think of the Church, a living, vibrant Body of believers that has survived twenty centuries of persecution and attack by those who have sought to shut her down -- what do you think of? Her architecture? Hardly. Her methods? I don't think so. No, we don't think of any of these things. What we think of is Her King, Her Lord, and Her Savior -- the Architect and Master Builder who said, "Upon this Rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall never prevail against it."

The fact of the matter is that it has taken an act of Almighty God to preserve the Church throughout the ages because the members of the Body have done everything in their power to dismantle Her walls of reconciliation, crumble Her foundation of healing, and shatter Her windows of salvation. We have taken the masterpiece of God and contorted and distorted Her beauty into a monstrous machine that has hurt, mangled, alienated, and isolated those She was sent to heal, reconcile, and bless.

Today, we are getting back to our study of Paul's letter to the church in Colossae after having taken a few weeks off to study other things. Let's take a look at our Scripture for this morning found in Colossians 1:16-23.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. {17} He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. {18} 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. {19} For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, {20} 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. {21} Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. {22} 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-- {23} if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Col 1:16-23 NIV)

I want us to focus our time this morning on verses 18-20 where Paul says that Jesus is the head of the body, the church and that through Jesus God is working to reconcile the entire creation to Himself. This is such an important Scripture for those of us who have seen the rise of church closings in the past several years and the countless church fights that results in churches splitting and forsaking the mission of Jesus. In this section of Scripture Paul gives us an answer as to how we can turn around this troubling trend.

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