All Together Now
Read Colossians 3:11 (ESV)
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
How is this verse relevant to our time and our current cultural climate?
There is no doubt that the world is divided. We make plenty of distinctions between people. Black or white, rich or poor, man or woman, educated or uneducated, Democrat or Republican...the list could go on and on. But Paul has been talking about how in Christ, we have been made new. We have been given a new spiritual self that is being renewed into the image of Christ. Because all believers are becoming sanctified and conformed to His image, we are all the same. Christ is in all of us and He is making us like Himself.
Therefore, as Paul says in today’s verse, the distinctions and divisions that we create between us are irrelevant in the body of Christ. In Christ, we are made new and made complete. The earthly differences that separate us here should be set aside because they are part of the “old self” that Paul said we should cast off (Colossians 3:9b-10). In Christ, people who may seem like our polar opposites on earth are our spiritual family. We should be spiritually united.
In Paul’s day, the Greeks and the Jews despised each other. They did not associate. The Jews viewed Gentiles as being unclean and pagan. The Jews were God’s chosen people and they were circumcised to prove it. They considered themselves more spiritual, so they looked down on the uncircumcised Gentiles. But in Colossians, Paul has already stressed the fact that circumcision doesn’t make them more spiritual than anyone else. In Colossians 2:11, he said that in Christ, we are spiritually circumcised by Him. He cut off our old flesh and then raised us to be new in Him. Circumcision is no longer necessary to distinguish who belongs to God and who doesn’t. That’s why, in Christ, the two groups who had been at odds for centuries were suddenly united.
Other people who were social outcasts were the barbarians and Scythians. Barbarians were viewed as uncivilized and primitive people. The Scythians were nomadic warriors known for their extremely violent military tactics. Because of this “savage” behavior, they were considered to be like wild, predatory animals and thus, were simultaneously feared and thought of as inferior to the rest of civilized society. And of course, slaves were not considered on par with the rest of society. They were viewed more as usual objects—possessions that could be owned.
But Colossians isn’t the only letter in which Paul addressed this issue. In Galatians 3:27-28 he wrote, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Friends, when we take off our old self and put on Christ, Christ dwells in us. That means that all believers in Jesus Christ are equal because He is in us all. There is now no Biblical justification for division between brothers and sisters in Christ because of race, education, culture, or status. Those barriers were broken down by His blood. I encourage you to spend some time examining your heart with the Lord. Are there any prejudices or barriers in your heart towards others that you need to confess and address with Him? Remember, “Christ is all, and in all.” We are truly all together now.
Lord, Your sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to save all of us who confess You as Lord, regardless of race, culture, or status. Help me to set aside differences and love my spiritual family the way that You have called me to. I want to live in unity with my brothers and sisters in You, not in division. Amen.