Viola and Sweet, in their new book Jesus Manifesto, point out that in a few major world religions, the founder is important (see p. 82). That makes sense. Think Siddhartha Gautama, Mohammed, Confucius, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy. I don’t know about Scientology or Swedenborgianism. In Animism or Atheism, in the sense that those are religions, relationship with the founder seems negligible.
In none of these other religions–and let it be stated that Mormonism is chiefly other than Christianity, along with Hinduism and all the others–is relationship with the founder crucial. Think about that.
In Colossians, the centrality of Jesus is significant from the outset. He is lauded and praised and given credit and honor and is generally placed at the core. Paul’s placing of the Savior at the center seems to be an answer to something in Colossae’s situation. In other words, whether it was Gnosticism, or some hybrid form of it, or the beginnings of the apathy that later surfaced in the nearby Laodicea, or a plethora of threats to authentic doctrine about the Christ . . . whatever it was, Paul wouldn’t have said the things he said about Jesus if it weren’t called for by the situation he was addressing. This is an occasional letter–one addressed at a specific time for a specific purpose or set of purposes–not a formal epistle.
It has been noted by scholars that the wording in Colossians of a certain Christ-expression is emphatic, if not unique. Chapter 2 verse 6 has this: ton Christon Iesoun ton Kurion (caps added)–which, when literally, awkwardly translated, means the Christ Jesus the Lord. The reiteration of the article “the” provides the special emphasis: The Christ Jesus (who is) The Lord. This word formulation, I suspect at this early stage of studying Colossians, is just one indication of the centrality of Jesus the Christ. “Christ,” a scholar noted, has by this time in history become part of a formal proper name and not only an adjectival description of Jesus’ identity.
Given Jesus’ centrality, we must of course seriously consider how to begin — and stay in — relationship with Him.