Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). 

There may be no greater anti-prejudicial statement made in all of God’s Word than Colossians 3:11 (see also the Good Samaritan parable found in Luke 10:25-37). Here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that our “vertical” relationship with God in Christ has “horizontal” implications. While we may pat ourselves on the back for our moral purity often, if we do an honest assessment of our attitudes, we may be harboring bias toward people of another race, color, social status, economic status, educational status, and even status within the church. Truth be told, even our brothers and sisters in Christ are often shunned because of subtle yet insidious forms of prejudice or elitism. Paul bluntly says this is wrong! 

Now what Paul is certainly not suggesting is that our social, cultural, ethnic, or sexual distinctions disappear. Actual, I believe, God created us different and had this in mind when He designed His grand scheme for evangelism and missions: “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Revelation 5:9). In other words, the call of the Gospel and the following of Christ do not mandate uniformity. However, for true believers, they do mandate love, brotherhood, and unity across all outward differences. That is what is meant by, “the ground at the foot of the cross is always level.” 

We see this same thought throughout Paul’s writings. Interestingly, besides this comment to the church at Colossae, he made mention of this kind of unity to the churches in Corinth, Rome, and Galatia as well.  Clearly Paul saw our tendency toward discrimination as a universal problem. And he wanted to make it clear that when we are placed into Christ and granted entrance into His kingdom we do so on equal terms. Thus we are now a family united under the headship of Christ. We, with all of our distinctions, have been brought together (or “made”, see 1 Corinthians 12:13) united with Christ and unified with each other. 

So, how does this work? First, these barriers have been broken down “for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Secondly, we are “…in one Spirit…all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). So we have the same Lord and are baptized by the same Holy Spirit. This is what creates this form of unity without uniformity, harmony instead of strife, and love instead of prejudice. This is our common bond and His worthiness (see again Revelation 5:9) makes this a reality. You see, this is not about our petty biases and myopically built walls that divide based upon our trivial differences. There is unity in Christ because He is the author of unity. There is love in Him because God is love, and there is harmony in the Spirit because He baptized us into harmony. And this Trinity, though unique in their persons, are in unity and harmony with each other! 

Again, this all comes back to the preeminence of Jesus. The last portion of Colossians 3:11 says, “but Christ is all, and in all.” Isn’t it amazing that when the eyes of our heart are synchronized and fixed on the majesty, power, beauty, and glory of Jesus our prejudicial walls come tumbling down. We don’t notice the color of our skin, the type of car we drive or house we live in, the language we speak, the number of diplomas we display, the clothes that we wear, or our social standing when we are intently gazing upon Him and all that He is.

Paul sums up this connection with adoring Jesus and our unity (not uniformity) in Him beautifully when he says:

“…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:18-23).

Advertisements