We Are Not Color Blind

Here there is no Gentile 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.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:11-13

Yesterday we looked in this same passage about how such different people gather together in Christ and how hard that can be (which is why Paul exhorts us to be forgiving, kind, and gentle!).

It's also important to realize how this passage has been used in some unhelpful ways throughout the church's history. Sometimes the church has said that culture no longer exists in the church - that it has all been erased in Christ, and the only thing that matters about us is that we are Christian. So therefore we should be color-blind, and blind to culture and socio-economic status, etc. 

That is emphatically NOT what Paul is talking about here. 

Think about it - has there ever been a church that has no culture? It would have to meet at no particular time and speak not particular language for example because time and language are both determined by culture after all! And since singing is always culturally conditioned, there'd be no singing, etc. That would be no church at all! No, instead, when people say that churches should be colorblind and culture-blind what ends up happening is that whatever the dominant culture is in that place, that becomes the culture of that church... and all the people from other cultural backgrounds have to adjust to fit in.

Paul does not envision that sort of church. That's why he names the differences (like Jew and Greek), he puts them in pairs to highlight the tensions (like slave and free), and he emphasizes how Christ is 'in all' - in each one of us. So in the scriptural view of the church, every culture matters, and it becomes the work of the church not to whitewash everything but to celebrate the differences while bearing with the difficulties. No wonder Paul connects being in community with the end of the old self - we're forced to grow up when we grow in Christ because we're forced to value those who are different than us as much as we value ourselves.

Ask the Lord what he's saying to you about these things today.