Colossians 3:12: Chosen, Holy and Beloved

February 18, 2015

Finally I come ‘round again to the letter of Paul to the Colossians. I left off ten days ago with a general reflection on the idea that we are to clothe ourselves in Christ and his character. This week, I would like to use Paul’s list of admonitions as a springboard for discussion of the sorts of changes you anticipate Jesus might accomplish in you in today’s world. We’ll take this verse by verse through Colossians 3:17.

Though it may seem like a thought coming from left field, I start by expressing my outrage at the anti-Semitism that is rising in Europe. Prejudice is defined as preconceived bias against someone or a group, based on misunderstanding, misconception, or incomplete knowledge. For whatever reason—and I admit utter bafflement—France, for example, is becoming inhospitable to Jews. But please hear me: there is nothing in Christianity to justify hostility towards the Jewish people. If one points a suspicious or accusatory finger towards a Jew, one must point that same finger towards oneself, for we have all sinned—Israeli, Palestinian, Parisian, Jew, Gentile— and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). We have all been alienated from our Creator, and our sin resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus died at the hands of Romans (pagan Gentiles) and Jews who provoked them —no denying this fact of history. But we all bear a common burden of sin guilt. Reception of Christ’s grace and forgiveness does not make a person superior or in any way justify contempt for those who have not received this gift. We are called to treat one other as kin (in the sense that our faith and humanity is grounded in the same Old Testament roots), even as we await the coming return of Jesus Christ to make clear his identity as the Messiah and invite everyone to believe and receive him.

Do hear how Paul begins his admonition:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

So when Paul calls us “chosen ones,” we stand in spiritual solidarity with the people that were the first to live in covenant with Almighty God. Identifying believers as chosen ones, holy and beloved, puts Gentile Christians like the Colossians squarely in the circle of the covenant between God and the Chosen People. In our generation, it is a great honor to be numbered in the family of faith that started with Abraham. This honor is humbling and dangerous in certain parts of the world (and our country and neighborhoods) where Christians stand up against prejudice. We Christians, like Abraham, were called out of a worldly life into fellowship with the living God (hence, we are holy). We were embraced in mercy by our heavenly Father (hence, we are beloved). We were grafted into the covenant by Jesus’ death on the cross, allowing us to receive the same covenant blessing (hence, we are chosen). You can read more about that in Ephesians 2:11–22.

And since we are chosen, we are to clothe ourselves with virtues that should lead to gracious tolerance of others (more on that as Colossians 3 unfolds). Those virtues would include patience with others’ foibles or cultural practices, humility before God and one another, and costly kindness extended to those who need it.

Questions for your reflection:

  1. Watch this brief video. How would you feel about being this chap’s bodyguard?

  2. Can you cite any instance of anti-Semitism in your neighborhood or city? What can you do to call this out or model Christ’s way?

  3. If you were “clothed with compassion, humility, etc…” how would your behavior change in response to local or common vexations?

  4. Sojourners done with church: is there any element of prejudice embedded in your reaction against the church? How can you show kindness, patience, humility, or compassion to those who have disappointed, disillusioned, or injured you?

 

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Colossians 3:12: Chosen, Holy and Beloved”

  1. Jodie Gallo Says:

    Mary,

    You said in passing that “France, for example, is becoming inhospitable to Jews.” That is not even remotely true.

    Why do you say that?

    • revmary Says:

      Jodie, “not even remotely true”? Google “anti-Semitism in France” and read articles from NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and The Telegraph (UK). Violence against Jews in France is growing enough to cause some Jews to leave the country.

      • emd5542 Says:

        My recent experience makes it very clear that this subscriber rearranges words for his own ends.

      • Jodie Gallo Says:

        Mary, being both a history buff and an current affairs junky, I have been following events in France and elsewhere in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East quite closely.

        The reason I objected to your characterization of France is because France has some of the the strictest laws in the world against antisemitism and against hate speech. Making an anti-Semitic speech in France will land you in jail. France is extremely protective of its Jewish population. Much more so than the United States.

        Folks I know overseas reading the news about Ferguson were lamenting to me over Christmas about how bad it has gotten in the US. “It is so tragic what we have seen happening to America. Racism is out of control, cops are shooting innocent black people in the streets, and race riots and shootouts are breaking out everywhere”.

        They are doing the same thing you did.

        France, due to its proximity and colonial ties to Muslim nations in North Africa and the Middle East has a large influx of job seekers who bring with them their cultural baggage and wars, and most if not all of the violence we are seeing in France is coming from 1st and 2nd generation foreigners. The violence in the Middle East and North Africa is literally spilling over into Europe.

        Everything I read indicates that France, far from becoming inhospitable to Jews, is being quite proactive about prosecuting antisemitism within its borders to the full extent of the law. And historically I would expect nothing less.

  2. emd5542 Says:

    Am I still on the plant?

  3. emd5542 Says:

    I meant planet but perhaps plant works! lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s