10 and [since you] have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all (Col 3.10-11).
Paul bases his journey into the light not on what we do, or even what we should do, but in who we are. If you’re a believer, you’re not who you were born to be. That’s the old self, or what Paul consistently calls “the old man,” or “the natural man” (1Co 2.14). The old man is not who we want to be:
- He’s been crucified, put to death (Ro 6.6).
- We’re to “put off” that guy, like old, worn-out clothes (Co 3.9; Ep 4.22).
Now, “since Jesus came into [your] heart,” you’re not that guy anymore. You’re a new self, a “new man,” which “is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ep 4.24)—“created,” because it didn’t exist before Christ gave you spiritual life.
And what’s this “new man” all about? What kind of person is he? What’s he like?
Put bluntly, he’s like God. Our passage says he is “renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him”; God, the Creator, is the pattern, and we, the creatures, are in his image. That image has been marred by our sin, and God is in the process of restoring it, renewing it. Paul here mentions the specific part of the image that he’s focused on: knowledge, or accurate recognition based on personal experience, the way you “know” the face of your spouse or your children or a lifelong friend. In Christ, we know things as they really are.
And how are they? In Christ, “things” are completely changed. We “know” one another primarily as in Christ—as brothers and sisters in the most important family ever envisioned or formed. The ways we normally categorize people—ethnicity (“Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised”), cultural practice (“barbarian, Scythian”), socioeconomic status (“slave and freeman”)—fade into irrelevance in the blinding light of our common glory in Christ.
We’re family. We’re in Christ. That’s all that matters.
Christ is in me. He’s in you. He’s in her, and him, and those over there. And we are in him.
What can possibly drive us apart?
Disagreements over cultural differences? Over life experiences? Over politics? Over denominational distinctives?
Pssssshhhhhh. Trivia. Let’s not be ridiculous. Christ is a stronger adhesive than that.
I have friends who are going to vote to place in the most powerful human position in the world someone that I will never vote for, under any circumstances.
The most powerful human position in the world!!!!
Someone I would never vote for!!!!
Under ANY circumstances!!!!
We are in Christ. Together. And forever.
One election, or two, or a thousand, will never drive us apart.
No matter the temporary, earthly consequences of that election.
We’re in Christ.
Nothing else even comes close.
In the parallel epistle to this one, Paul writes that the “new self” is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ep 4.24).
There’s the image of God again. And this time Paul speaks not of knowledge, but of righteousness—which, thanks to Christ’s sacrificial death, has been restored to us, as it was In the Beginning (2Co 5.21)—and of holiness.
My Christian brothers who vote badly—very badly—are righteous. They are bathed in the righteousness of Christ. That makes how they vote insignificant to my regard for them, relatively speaking.
My Christian brothers who vote badly—very badly—are holy; that is, they are the special possession and treasure of Almighty God—which puts them literally in a class by themselves. Their vote is not going to change that.
I’d better take care how I treat God’s treasured collection. And since I’m part of that collection myself—through no fault of my own—I’m going to treat them with the kind of delighted care that’s only appropriate.
What kind of church do you suppose we’d have if we lived that way?
And what kind of society do you suppose we’d have if its ragingly angry members saw the contrast between how they’re treated by their peers and how we treat our brothers and sisters?