9 … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Col. 3:9-13
I once wrote a post in which I stated that my favorite sport is athletics. (They say opposites attract each other which is true in my case: despite my love of athletics, I could easily bag a gold medal for being the most un-athletic person in the world! I could take a week to finish a city marathon.)
Anyways, on reading that article, my friend Suzanne Young sent me a clip of an inter-school high jump competition. I don’t know how she knew that I would appreciate a high jump clip, but I believe she was in the Spirit because actually two of the athletes that I admire most are female champion high jumpers Ariane Friedrich from Germany and Blanka Vlasic of Croatia.
I have written about the high jump here because the scripture that we are going to consider today has something to do with clearing a certain bar, the bar of bigotry. My Thesaurus offers a rich collection of words to describe bigotry: prejudice, racism, intolerance, narrow-mindedness (my favorite). We could even add narcissism. If a believer can clear the hurdle of bigotry in his or her life, then such an one is a truly spiritual man/woman. But clearly, this can only be achievable when a true spiritual transformation has occurred in that person’s heart.
In the natural we as humans have many differences. Some of our differences are less harmful than others, like an African’s preference not to walk dogs (I hope I got the terminology right). You would need to pay me a huge amount of money – and that’s just because I needed it – to make me walk a dog up any boulevard. It’s simply not in my system to walk dogs, although I think I love dogs.
Cats I simply detest. I love them only when they are catching rats. Actually, I once had a cat which I really loved. He was a champion rat-catcher.
Both these preferences are very African and I daresay quite harmless – as far as I am concerned, that is. (But there probably is someone on the other side of the hemisphere who is about to burst a neck vein over the fact that I don’t like cats!)
The fact, however, is that being pro-cat or not has nothing to do with the gospel. There are other, more dangerous ‘preferences’ which are the true poison for the child of God.
The really dangerous stuff are things which are rooted deep within our natural makeup. There are, for example, racial perceptions embedded deep in the genes of our physical make-up, things that we can do nothing about. A white man has perceptions about the black man (some justified and some not) over which he has no control. The same is true of the black man. Even if he was born and bred in the Western world, he still has inbred perceptions about the white man which are just a part of his African nature.
These genetic forces/differences are extremely powerful, and it is only the gospel of Jesus Christ that can truly set us free from their power.
[Below: on a wintry day in Singida, a young girl looks wistfully out of a window]