Summary: God expects us to treat one another as equals, love one another, and worship with one another.
1. God expects us to view one another as EQUALS.
The church at Colosse must have been a very diverse church. “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free…” (v. 11a). The distinctions that are so important to the world mean nothing in the church.
Paul is saying, “You are all equal in Christ. It doesn’t matter what race you belong to, what religion you used to practice, what culture you’re from, or what position you have in society, you are all equal in Christ.” Though the Colossians were different from one another in many ways, he calls them all “brothers” in 1:2.
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The male and female distinction tells us that differences remain among Christians, but these differences are not to become barriers to fellowship.
“We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who apparently had run away. In that day, a slave was not considered a person; he was viewed as a piece of property. In the providence of God, Onesimus met Paul and was saved. Paul wrote to Philemon and asked him to receive Onesimus back “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” (Philem. 16a). [It is possible that the letter to Philemon accompanied the letter to the Colossians.]
“But Christ is all, and in all” (v. 11b). “Christ is all.” In other words, He is everything I need. I am spiritually complete through Christ. And Christ is “in all.” Christ lives within every believer. That makes us all equal.
2. God expects us to LOVE one another.
Believers are described as “God’s chosen people” (v. 12). Here we have the doctrine of divine election. [Illustration: When we elect a politician, we expect him or her to serve or represent his or her constituents. We don’t elect that person to do nothing while collecting a big paycheque.] We have been elected/chosen by God for service. We are to be living advertisements of what God’s grace does in people’s lives.
• Love is SELF-SACRIFICE.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believers in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The key word is “gave.” A love that does not give is not true love.
“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love….so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…. ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples’” (John 13:1, 4-5, 34-35).
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-11).
• Love is the SOURCE of every other Christian virtue.
You will not have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience toward others unless you love others.
“The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:9-10).
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6).
“The fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Gal. 5:22).
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
The tense of the Greek word for “clothe yourselves” (v. 12) speaks of an action to be undertaken with a sense of urgency. We are to clothe ourselves with five virtues, all of which flow from a heart filled with love for others.