(You) have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator (Colossians 3:10).
Renewed Knowledge: In July and August, we heard from these powerful scriptures in Colossians; and we see from these passages God’s vision for the world projects a new reality and renewed knowledge. The Colossians were discovering it; Paul was affirming it. We are called to be learning it.The imagery here is valuable. We wouldn’t consider wearing the same out-of-style or threadbare clothes of our earlier years. In the same way, Paul affirms the dreams of God to challenge an entirely new era of action and interaction.
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free… (Colossians 3:11).
Renewed Vision: Paul’s words have a particular ring when placed beside the realities we see unfolding before us. In his book The Gifts of the Jews,Thomas Cahill explains the precursor to the vision Paul articulates in Colossians above. It was the Jews—this ragtag, often contentious yet called to be covenant people of God—who first caught the vision God cast before them—that all people had worth, everyone was important, individual opinions mattered, and people should be respected, fed, housed, clothed, and cared for—even enemies (Proverbs 24:29; 25:21; Matthew 5:43-45; Romans 12:20-21). Aliens should be loved: “…love the alien as you love yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…”(Leviticus 19:34). Justice, kindness, and humility should prevail over tithing and donations to the temple: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
These are hard; they are vital and exceedingly biblical. Micah says it well: this is what God requires.
Renewed World: Christ is All and in All: And finally, the passage reminds us: Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). There will continue to be territorial disputes, hunger, famine, economic hardships, terrorism, weird politics and other threats to our safety and livelihoods. But this has always been so. It was certainly so in Paul’s day, and still his vision of an equitable, peaceful co-existence with others continued. Paul understood that Christ was in the everyday, while permeating all things with steadfast with love.
In this lovely month of September, search for what God needs you to see and to do. Realize how much you need others—in your office, down the street, in the class next door. And remember: regardless of who or where or what, Christ is all and in all.
“There is no spot where Christ is not!”– Randall Hampton
“…We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
It is Cahill’s contention in The Gifts of the Jewsthat true democracy came from these early Jewish ideals.