The garment of love

22 07 2013

Easily overlooked is the fact that the bold statement “Christ is all” is placed by the Apostle Paul in sharp contrast to the most divisive elements of society–economic advantage and ethnic pride!

Colossians 3:11 is a rifle shot of truth that takes on shocking significance when we look at the immediate context. Let me give it to you.

“…where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”(Col. 3:11, from the NKJV)

The Apostle takes no shortcuts here. He mentions the most emotionally-charged issues of his society:…Jewish ethnic pride and religiosity…the uneducated, illiterate barbarians…the low-life Scythians…the economic snobbishness of the free…and the chronic disempowerment of the slave

Into this cauldron of pride and resentment he tosses the atom bomb of the Supremacy of Jesus Christ! He says that for the Jesus follower, Christ’s all-supremacy must trump all of society’s class distinctions and disinterest in those who are different.

How possible? Check the context…prior verse: [You, follower of Christ] have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:10).

The Church of Jesus Christ has not begun to live up to the command of Jesus Christ. We tolerate an un-Christlike situation. Those of us with privilege work to retain our position; we protect our comfort. And if we are moved to reach out and understand and care, it is usually in ways that cost us little.

And those of us who lack opportunity and power live as if Christ were not supreme at all. We resent and complain; we fail to love our brothers who have more.

Unfair charge you say? I give you the words of Scripture, written to us all equally. “Therefore,” –that is, because you have put on this new man, and gained this new knowledge of Christ’s supremacy in the middle of all societies inequalities and prejudices…

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering….” (Col 3:12)

I pause…this is not going my way….this is not coddling my hurts nor protecting my comfort zone. None of these attitudes is necessary in a perfect world; they are only required when I’m getting the shaft…or giving it!

“…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:13-14).

I’ve preached on those commands before, but not until now have I seen their actual context. They tell me how to hold Christ supreme in my life, as I wrestle with the inequalities that surround me, as I try to walk alongside brothers who despise the color of my skin or envy the car I drive.

Think of this. Jesus already put a garment of love on me. Now, today, I’ve got to put that garment of love on my mind, my words, my actions. I must love the person who doesn’t love me, because Christ is all!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *