If we are not careful, we will read Bible passages and miss the astounding impact the good news of God made in the first century.
Paul’s list in verse 11 includes a wide spectrum of people, who normally would have nothing to do with each other.
Colossians 3.11 – In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, enslaved and free, but Christ is all and in all!
Let’s think about Paul’s list in terms of our contemporary culture.
When I was a teenager in the 1960s, Jews and African Americans were not permitted inside our town’s Country Club. However, the gospel makes the various races members of the same family.
An African American had never entered the church that I served in the early 1970s. I worked to change that church’s tradition, because the body of Christ is not complete with only one race present.
Barbarians and Scythians were believed to be the most disreputable persons in first-century society. Thankfully, there are churches today that receive the equivalent of barbarians and Scythians.
Praise God that his love transforms enemies into friends.
Slaves to sin find Jesus’ words to be true, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8.36).
Paul celebrated an extremely diverse group of people who were melded together because they put aside their differences and saw Christ as all and in all.
How does a very divided society become unified?
Jesus is the motivating force for different economic, racial, cultural, and gender backgrounds to come together.
When we focus on “Christ who is all and in all,” and not what divides us, we will discover friends and fellow family members in strange places.
With Christ as our solid foundation, our relationship with others will be enhanced by keeping in mind a few suggestions.
(1) Give people your full attention.
There are few better ways to make a friend than to genuinely listen to what they have to say. This is especially true when we are bridging an ethnic or cultural gap.
(2) Adopt the position of a learner.
What can we learn from someone from another ethnic background or economic status?
A person who is willing to patiently listen to someone of another race or economic background will discover a gold mine of information, provided they listen long enough.
Along the way, they will find a new appreciation for a brother or sister in Christ.
(3) Above all, make Jesus central.
The old expression, “If God is willing to call you son/daughter, why can’t I call you brother/sister?” is true.
When people love Jesus, they are able to overcome cultural differences and appreciate the wide range of God’s loving reach.
Rudy Ross and I spend nearly ten minutes talking about this verse in today’s YouTube video. We illustrate the verse with stories of how we have been impacted by God’s love for a diverse humanity.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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