Week of September 2

Dr. Todd B. Jones

My dear friends,

At the end of the First World War, the poet William Butler Yeats wrote his poem, “The Second Coming.” In it, Yeats voiced the essentially modern fear and anxiety that is often in the very air that we breathe:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The fear that things are falling apart, that there is nothing left to hold us together, is one many of us have. Tragic acts of senseless violence loosed upon innocent people this summer in America leave us shaken. We wonder where things are heading, and in our worst moments, fear can take hold of our lives. While the Bible reminds us that “perfect love casts out fear,” it has always seemed to me that the opposite is also true. Perfect fear has the power to control our lives and to blind us to the power of love that “watches over us by night and by day, in all times and all seasons.” Perhaps this is why the Bible so often bids us “Be not afraid!” and “Fear not!” I read once that these words appear 365 times in the Bible, which means that we have one such reminder for every day of the year.

Presbyterian Women this year are using a study of the Letter to the Colossians for their circle Bible study. Colossians offers a powerful word of hope that speaks to our fears and the anxiety that has gripped this age in which we live. The word that it proclaims is one that is about the sufficiency of the Gospel, the adequacy of Jesus Christ to enable us to face whatever life presents. In the letter, Paul writes of Jesus and says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created; things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” I try to remember these last words often. “In Him all things hold together.” In a world where we often are afraid that things are falling apart, the Gospel affirms that there is a “centre” that holds “all things together.” All things hold together in Jesus Christ, who provides for us the coherence and meaning that we need for the living of our days.

When you fear that your life is falling apart, remember this good word from Paul: “He himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Over and against our anxiety that nothing can hold this fractured, broken world together, the Gospel makes a different claim. There is a Centre that holds, and that center is Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say, “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.” Find you peace here, dear friend, in the One alone in whom “all things hold together.”

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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