The first six letters of the word “Christian” give an obvious and helpful reminder that there is ONE who MUST come FIRST and absolutely foremost in our lives—CHRIST! There is no question that one cannot be a CHRISTian without CHRIST, and the positioning of those six letters is FIRST in the word! As a Floridian is one who is “of or belonging to” the state of Florida, a Christian is one who is “of or belonging to” Christ.
Scripture clearly teaches the place that Christ demands to have in the life of a Christian. Read this text from Colossians very carefully: Christ is “the firstborn OVER ALL creation. For by Him ALL things were created…ALL things were created through Him and for Him. And He is BEFORE ALL things, and in Him ALL things consist…that in ALL things He may HAVE the preeminence” (1:15-18, emp. added). Read that last line again—“that in ALL things He may HAVE the preeminence.”
The expression “have the preeminence” is a present tense participle that means “to be first, hold the first place.” So, Christ is to “have first place in everything” (NASB). A serious question for every Christian to answer is, Do I have Christ in “first place in everything” in my life? There are a number of litmus tests to answer that question, but Scripture provides one in this context. Read the entirety of verse 18, part of which was omitted above.
“He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” In the context of Christ having first place in ALL things is the affirmation that He is “the head of the body, the church.” How essential is Christ to His body? Well, what are you without your head? How essential is the church (or the body) to Christ? Well, what are you without your body?
Christ and His body are inseparable! It is not possible to have one (ex: Christ) without equally having the other (ex: the church). Yet, some individuals try to make claims to the contrary by saying things like, “I’ll take Christ, but I’m not interested in the church,” OR “Christ is first in my life but I’m still not sure about the church,” OR “I don’t really have time for the church right now but Christ is my everything.” Such cannot be the case!
The preeminence of the church is taught by the Head of the church Himself. He commanded, “Seek first His kingdom” (Matt. 6:33). So, which is supposed to be “first” in our lives—Christ or His church? The answer is, BOTH! One cannot be first in your life without the other being first! You can’t be putting Christ first if you’re not putting His church first!