Here there is no Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. -Apostle Paul, Colossians 3:11
It was true in Paul's day. It is true today. Differences can so quickly become divisions, even in the body of Christ. Those differences can be national or racial-Jew or Gentile. They can be unimportant religious differences-circumcised or uncircumcised. Cultural differences can divide-barbarians, who could not speak the Greek language, and Scythians, a particularly uncultured group from what is now southern Russia, exemplified cultural differences in the early church. Then there are socioeconomic differences-slave or free. In today's context, Paul might have written, "Here there is no American or Chinese, black or white, Baptist or Methodist, educated or uneducated, rich or poor..."
As Paul wrote to believers in Colossae, he urged them to set their hearts and minds on heavenly things (Col. 3:1-2). They were not to view life from an earthly perspective for, as believers, "Christ is all and is in all." In other words, Christians have a double unity that transcends all earthly differences. There is a horizontal unity for the Spirit of Christ is now "in all" believers, binding them together. Believers also have a vertical unity, for Christ is "all". Christ is the living Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, to whom believers have pledged their ultimate loyalty. This loyalty transcends all earthly differences and shapes everything that we are and do. Jesus is the centerpiece of our lives. As Mother Teresa said, "Jesus is everything."
In this passage, Paul is contending, I submit, that there is a new humanity, a new ethnic group called Christians-bound together not by race or national identity or socioeconomic status, but by Christ.
As a follower of Christ who views life through a heavenly lens, how should I primarily identify myself? For example, what is my true nationality? Not American or Mexican or Chinese, but Christian. My race? Not white or black, but Christian. My primary religious identity? Not Baptist or Methodist, but Christian. My political party? Not Republican or Democrat or Independent, but the Jesus party. My occupation? Not a plumber or a teacher, but a disciple who serves Christ. My home? Not South Carolina, but heaven.
You see, the Apostle Paul did not ultimately sacrifice his life for a nation or a particular racial group or a denomination or a political party or an economic system. He gave his life in the service of Him whose name is above every name-the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the world looks at us, whose flag do they see us flying at the top of our flagpole? If it is not the flag of Christ, then it is time for some rearranging. Until that rearranging occurs, the body of Christ will never be what Christ intended it to be. This lesson is important for Christians in America, particularly for those of us who live in the South.
So let us always remember: "To live is Christ." Everything else, yes everything else, is secondary.