Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:11-12
My NIV Study Bible notes that in verse 11 cited above, the word barbarian referred to someone who did not speak Greek and was thought to be uncivilized and that Scythians were known for their brutality and considered little better than wild beasts. So this was a radical concept for Paul to have written to the Colossians. And it is so today.
A few years ago I was traveling with a group through the “Holy Land,” following the path that Moses is believed to have taken leading the Israelite slaves to freedom from Egypt and through the wilderness. My fellow travelers came from England, Australia and the United States. One of the clergy in the group was chastised at an evening gathering for how badly he had treated some staff the day before at a hotel where we had stayed. It gave rise to a discussion about humility, pride and self-esteem. The Bible frequently cautions us to avoid pride in our positions and calls us to be humble with one another, something this young clergy had momentarily forgotten. Yet, for those who have been robbed of their self-esteem by being considered inferior or lessor somehow, pride may be necessary for the healing. Thus, Pride marches and demonstrations are good for those needing positive recognition.
What are our churches doing to put Colossians 3:11-12 into action? What if a Christian leader were to write a letter with a similar message to your church today, what would it say? What would be your congregation’s response?
Would you decide to contact Wyoming Equality or other LGBT group about how you could support them in the healing from the bias and violence they have suffered?
Would you decide to support the NAACP in their efforts to bring equality for all, regardless of color?
Would you decide to contact the Wind River Native Advocacy Center to support self-determination and empowerment for Native Americans and support “Indian Education for All” in Wyoming’s public schools?
Would you decide to support laws and policies to keep immigrant families together, whether documented or not?
Would you decide to support a welcoming refugee resettlement plan in Wyoming?
Would you decide to develop a campaign to get a hate crimes law on the books in Wyoming?
What would your congregation decide? What will your congregation decide?
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.
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