July 03, 2017

Neither Gentile nor Jew

Colossians 3:1-15

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised . . . but Christ is all, and is in all.

—  Colossians 3:11

In ancient times the Jews were oppressed by one Gen­tile nation after another: Egyp­tians, Philistines, Assyrians, Baby­lonians, Greeks, Romans, and more. Shortly after Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, the volatile relationship between the Jews and their Roman ­rulers exploded into war.

Josephus was a Jewish freedom fighter in Galilee, one of the leaders of a futile revolt that ended with the Romans burning the temple and destroying Jerusalem (A.D. 66-70). In his book The Jewish War, Josephus tells how the Romans savagely crucified thousands upon thousands of Jews in retaliation.

How could a Jew ever love a Gentile? But, said Paul to the Jewish and Gentile Christians, hatred was a thing of their past, for they were now born again. By believing in Christ, they were united with him in death and raised to new life. Believers were also united with each other to form a new chosen people that included Jews as well as Gentiles. They were to clothe themselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” They were to “bear with each other” and forgive whatever grievances they had, to put on love and “let the peace of Christ rule” in their hearts.

New life in Christ breaks down the most bitter walls of hostility and floods our relationships with love so that we may begin again. Peace with God brings peace between people.

Lord, how can we let go of our grievances? Help us to forgive, and give us freedom in Christ to begin anew. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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