Family Matters

Easter Cross FlickrFor the past couple of years I have been reading and meditating on Colossians. I am intrigued, often awestruck, by Paul’s beautiful description of the preeminence of Christ, his care and concern for the church at Colossae and Laodicea, his clear warnings against the pervasive, and influential false teaching of the day. All throughout the letter he reminds readers of Christ’s work of the cross, the freedom that comes from forgiveness in Christ, the fullness of life that springs forth from his death. This is the Good News – the reason why we surrender the totality of our beings to follow Jesus, right?
Take a fresh look at these few verses in Colossians 3, maybe read them aloud and in your own voice, then listen with your ears, linger for a few more seconds, relish in this truth: “Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, the you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4
So, lately I’ve been a little more aware of the fact that Colossians is written not necessarily to me or to you as an individual, but to us – the church – sons and daughters of the King, brothers and sisters gathered together in Christ as a whole new family. Each one of us, Paul goes on to say, “is being renewed in knowledge after the image of the Creator, “here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11). What strikes me the most, right now and in light of our ethnic diversity conversation, is that we’re all being renewed after the image of the Creator, and as such, Christ is all and in all.
Think about this with me. Each one of us individually, and all of us collectively reflect something of the image of God. So, when I sit across a table from my friend Faye and look intently at her face there’s something in and behind her deep brown eyes, the shape and contours of her Japanese face, and the color of her skin that reflects, mysteriously, the image of God…he is present in her face, and mine, yours and your neighbor’s. He is ever-present in the faces of our brothers and sisters, and all of the differences in eye and skin color, multi-shaped eyes, noses, and mouths reflect something of Imago Dei. His astounding creativity passes us by every single day in the multi-colored faces of people – the ones he came to save.
God’s image is reflected through the unique vantage point of my Hispanic friend Erica, who enables me to see a side of the kingdom I am unable to see without her distinctly different perspective. Milton Massie, whose depth of character and breadth of experience, has taught me more than I have room to record about bridge building between cultures and the unique perspective of an African American man in urban and city ministry. And, although I am “boringly white” as I was recently described, I hope I add some texture to their lives as well – because we need each other to reflect Imago Dei.
And, yet, sin wrecks and warps our ability to see beauty in the diversity; instead we reject the “difference,” we ridicule and diminish one another in ways our Father never will, and rather than unite, our differences divide and destroy. We all see the continual evidence of this sin graphically displayed in cities across our country and around the globe.
So, as we continue down this path together, I so long to remember, and to remind, that the ethnic diversity conversation for Cru is not an abstract notion about an important concept. No, it’s profound family matter integral to Imago Dei and located at the heart of the gospel: Christ is all and in all.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so also must you. And, above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

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