Colossians 3: 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Few people are unaware of Jesse Owens. Winning 4 gold medals in one Olympics puts most people on the map, but the backdrop to Owen’s story is even more intriguing. Being a black American sprinter at the 1936 Olympics was particularly meaningful since these games were also known as Hitler’s Nazi games. While Hitler espoused the virtues of the dominant Arian race, a black man became the hero of the games. Owens, however, would point to another hero of those games, someone he’d refer to as a “friend”.
Owens was very close to not advancing in the long jump competition because he fouled his first two attempts, but just prior to his final attempt, blonde, blue-eyed German Luz Long suggested that Owens could easily jump the necessary 7.15m so why not move his start back a bit to be safe. Owens took the advice of Luz, and easily qualified for the finals. Most know that Jesse Owens won that Long Jump competition, but not many realize that Luz Long won the silver. By Long assisting Owens it cost him the gold medal, but it didn’t seem to matter to him, and Owens respected that. In the midst of massive racial tensions, two men standing in the spotlight chose to walk a different path. Owens summed it up. “’That business with Hitler didn’t bother me,’ Owens later wrote. ‘I didn’t go there to shake hands. What I remember most was the friendship I struck up with Luz Long’”[i]
I don’t know what Owens’ or Luz’s beliefs were or whether they had an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, but I can emphatically say that what they demonstrated in one of the most stressful of situations was completely Christlike. When Paul wrote to the church in Colossus, he emphasized, not the differences, but what all believers had in common. Keep in mind that for well over a thousand years the Jewish people knew they were a separated people, set apart from the others. Yet now with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the prophecy of Hosea was fulfilled to bring all men to salvation (Romans 9: 23-29). And Paul summarizes it in Colossians 3:11: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Sythian slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all.”
I am not naïve to the differences we all have regarding our upbringing: our socio-economic class, our experiences based on our religious upbringing or even our race, but if we are Christians, we need to accept the truth that comes from the Word of God. As Christians, we are one family! In our home, we are so blessed to see that truth worked out every day. Come to our house on a weekend and you might think you just walked into the United Nations. You’ll see white skin, brown skin, black skin and any of the various shades between them. It warms my heart that these differences are meaningless to those who visit us, and instead we are enriched by learning about the cultures of Asians, Indians, Europeans, and North Americans of various cultures and races.
When we meet to study the Word of God and to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have in common is Christ. “Christ is all, and is in all”. Is your theology on this matter consistent with the Word of God? If not, I’d challenge you to immerse yourself in the word and hear God’s voice on this matter.