Throughout the centuries, people have divided over a variety issues or a person’s status in society. Most, if not all, of these divisions can be placed into four basic categories – national distinctions, religious distinctions, cultural distinctions, and economic distinctions. We use these divisions to define identity and responsibility, both for ourselves and for others.
Halfway through his letter to the believers in Colossae, Paul gives instructions to watch carefully over the attitude of their hearts and the words that they say. His reason is based upon their new identity in Christ:
…you have put off the old man with his practices and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator.
Although their new identity was based solely on the new man and no longer on the old man, it can be hard to let go of some of the previous distinctions. Before Christ, their differences often determined if societal rules or expectations applied to them. Roman citizens had rights that non-citizens did not. Circumcised Jews avoided dealing with anyone who was uncircumcised. Economics and social status also played a huge role in how the laws were applied.
In case anyone in Colossae thought that Paul’s directions about the attitude of their hearts and the words they speak somehow didn’t apply to them because of their background or current status, Paul continued:
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
All are welcome to join God’s family. There are no exclusions, no distinctions as to who gets in. We all come through the same doorway of faith in Jesus. Once we are in the family, the old lines for division no longer define who we are. Instead, our identity is in Christ…and as such, we are all on equal footing. With equal footing comes equal responsibility for participating in our growth, our being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator.
If Jesus loves us so much that He now dwells in all – regardless of our background, our nationality, our level of sophistication, our education, or our economic status – then it is not too much for us to accept Him as all we need to be like.
It’s time to leave our old habits and sinful practices behind us. No exclusions. No excuses.