The gospel of Jesus Christ is scandalously good! In it we see that anybody can be found in right standing before a holy God, apart from his good works, super-spiritual practices or even legalistic observances, but simply through active faith in Jesus.
The Bible teaches that it is not about us making ourselves good so that we can be accepted by God, but it’s about God coming down and dying for our sins, so that he can justly accept us, on the basis of his goodness and what he has done. In other words, the determining factor in our relationship with God is not our past or works but Christ’s past and his work!
Additionally, the gospel is scandalously good because it not only has power to transform individuals but also entire communities. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Colossians 3v11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Paul is testifying of the change that has taken place in the city of Colossae since the gospel was received.
To fully appreciate what he is saying, we need to understand the lie of the land in Colossae. It was a great city and it was a diverse city – there were different religious groups (“circumcised & uncircumcised”), different ethnic groups (“Jew & Greek”), different cultural groups (“barbarian & Scythian”) and it was a diverse socio-economic city (“slave & free”). Unfortunately, it was not only a diverse city but also a divided city! Because, although there are all these different groupings, none of them actually got along and they never hung out together!
Then something amazing starts to happen – the Gospel is proclaimed and various people start to put their faith in Jesus. Jews convert, Greeks surrender to Christ, Barbarians are baptized, Scythian’s are saved, etc. For the first time diverse peoples and cultures begin to gather together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ! The effect of the gospel is that a new community starts to gather that would not exist anywhere else in the city. Which is why Paul writes… “Here there is not Greek and Jew…etc.”
Implying that elsewhere (‘out there’) this kind of grouping is unheard of! Out there it’s diverse but divided; but “Here” it’s different, it’s diverse but united (“but Christ is all, and in all “). Paul is celebrating this uncommon unity in the Gospel; people from all backgrounds coming together to demonstrate what things could look like in our city when Jesus Christ is Lord!
As a nation we have produced exceptional individuals – Politicians (Mandela), Sportsmen & Women, Heart Surgeon, Business people, etc. But, we have struggled to produce a healthy and flourishing society! So the big question our society is asking is, how is it possible to be unified and diverse all at once? Is there a message big enough and strong enough to transform not only individuals but also communities? Yes, the Gospel of Jesus! Jesus Christ alone is able to sustainably knit together people who would never normally gather together. Because when Jesus Christ is the ‘main Chief’ then all our secondary tribal differences will find their place under His Lordship and leadership! May the Lord give us grace to see this gospel transformation in our own beautiful city!