One of the most glorious portions of scripture, when it comes to the Lord Jesus Christ, is found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:13-18).
The last word we see in this portion of scripture is the word, “preeminence.” It is translated from the Greek word proteuo which simply means to be first (in rank and influence). So to state it very simply, for Jesus Christ to have preeminence, He must be first in our life in every way. He must be first, before our family members, even our spouses. He must be first before our careers. He must be first over every interest in this life we might have.
We read in the book of Revelation that the church in Ephesus was commended by the Lord Jesus Christ for their good works and other things that they did. Yet, the Lord warned them that He would remove their candlestick if they did not come back to their first love. Sometimes Christians miss quote Revelation 2:4 by saying the Ephesians have “lost” their first love. What it really says is they have “LEFT” their first love. It is something the believers in Ephesus did on their own, whether they were conscious of it or not. What really happened to these believers is that the preeminence of Christ was fading, even though the work they were doing seemed to be for God.
When you look at the state of the church today, I think it is pretty easy to say that Christ does not have the preeminence within the church as he should. There are so many other things that attract the attention of the saints. One of the biggest reasons I am personally against all the gimmickry, attractions and entertainment that the church offers today, to lure people into their buildings, is because it is promoting and establishing an interest in something other than Christ in the hearts of the unsuspecting lost souls. They are introduced to things that are appealing to the flesh and thus it conditions people to think that the church is there to cater to all their emotional needs. They are conditioned to expect the church to be like a community center, where all social programs are offered. Many years ago one pastor told me that the Lord called him, not to have a church, but to have a life center. I was respectful of the pastor so I did not say anything to him at that time, but I knew that he did not hear from the Lord on that. God has called none other than His church to represent His kingdom. Jesus said that he will build His church, not His life center. You can mark this down, if Christ will again be preeminent in the church, the church will flow with life. Not because it is made into a life center, but because life flows from wherever Christ is the center. Saints, there is not a greater testimony that can be said about any fellowship then when those who enter that fellowship say, “There is life in this place.”
There is one thing I tell couples during marriage counseling. It is the same thing I tell every married couple who will listen to me. I say to them all, “If Christ is the center of your marriage it will be impossible for your marriage to fail.” For it to fail, one or both have to backslide, and if they backslid then, of course, Christ is no longer the center of their marriage. He is no longer the center of their life as well. In all things Christ must have the preeminence.
For the most part, when Christ ceases to have the preeminence in a church, it usually happens in a very subtle way. When ministers and elders, who oversee the church, start putting their focus on other things, then the church will be led away from Christ. Again, this happens in a most unsuspecting way. Most often the intentions are right for the many things that are done in the name of the Lord. However, nothing is really accepted in heaven if it isn’t the will of the Lord. “…Thy will be done on earth as it is IN HEAVEN.” The thing that happens when a work isn’t the will of the Lord, is that the work starts to take precedence in the church and Christ loses His preeminence. On the other hand, if there is a refusal to do the will and work of the Lord, then He has already been denied His preeminence. Whenever the church loses sight of building the kingdom of God, she starts to build her own kingdom. Pastors who lose sight of Christ start building their own little empire, all along thinking they are smack dab in the will of God. They do not realize that they have robbed Christ of His preeminence. Acts chapter six is a good reminder for ministers of what their chief focus should be. “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). If pastors would commit themselves to this simple life of seeking God through prayer and the word, there would be a lot of ministry things that would drop off. There would be a lot less effort by man and much more dependence on the Holy Spirit. There would be a lot more, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is when Christ is getting the preeminence.
Saints of God, just because you may not be called to the ministry, does not excuse you from being in prayer and in the word of God. Though you may not be afforded the time to often be shut in with God, it is of the utmost importance that you have a daily time of prayer and Bible reading. If not, you will find Christ to not have the preeminence in your life. You will also make yourself more subject to being led away from Christ into and after other things. A life of prayer and a steady diet of the word of God goes a long way in helping every believer to let Christ have the preeminence in all things.