The Exclusiveness and Inclusiveness of Christ
"The new man, which is being renewed after the image of Him That created him. Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman, but Christ is ALL and ALL" (Col. 3:10, 11)
This is the all-comprehending, all-embracing Christ. Now here once more at the end of the Apostle's earthly life and ministry, he brings before the Lord's people that great purpose, vision and intention of a corporate man: "after the Image of Him That created him." The man here, while of course being individual, is presented as corporate. He also mentions the many aspects of the great schism that has been wrought in the whole universe by which the human race has been split up, broken up, and put into a state of conflict with itself. Then the Apostle says that vast work of disintegration, confusion, conflict, schism and frustration is destines to be entirely overcome and all that state removed in a corporate man, a corporate Christ. All the marks of this great schism, which started in heaven and split heaven in two and set up the rivalry in heaven, registered even in heaven something of frustration, and that is, the arresting of God's purpose. All the marks of this terrible thing came down from heaven unto this earth, and destroyed the Unity of the human race, and developed this terrible history in all directions and connections - his history of a fundamental schism in the very constitution of things and this terrible frustration.
Now the Apostle says that this vast thing is destined to be destroyed, and put aside and supplanted by a humanity in absolute harmony, agreement, unity, oneness and fellowship. And therefore, believers are called upon in the process of this renewing, this bringing back by the Holy Spirit, they are called upon themselves, on the one side to exclude all that Christ excludes, and to embrace all that Christ embraces. It is a commonplace expression, but for this reason, and any expression of real fellowship and oneness, is the enemy to all that satan has done. Therefore, fellowship becomes the battleground between heaven and hell. It is centered in the Church. This is a marvelous statement, the depth and fullness of which we shall never compass, where over against all this other, Christ is ALL, and in ALL. The principle law of power, of unification, of integration is just meeting on the ground of Christ, and refusing all other ground. And if people will not come on to the ground of Christ, then that limits our meeting, our fellowship. This fellowship is not on any other ground at all, it is not what meets our eyes.
The Lord has done some very deep and drastic work in you and in me in relation to certain things. Those things become anathema to you and to me and we find it very difficult to be tolerant in their presence. Dear friends, let me say again, we have got to close our eyes to a whole vast realm of things, as things, and not allow them to stand in the way of fellowship, if only there is the right ground. It may be a very small measure of ground in comparison with all the other. But if there is just that measure of Christ, that is where our eyes ought to be set and not upon the other things.
You will have to read a lot into what I am saying, but you will find as I find that if I am going to get anywhere with anybody at all in spiritual things, I have got to focus and determine to keep focused upon what measure of Christ there is and let these things excluded be a guide to a lot of other things. I do not suppose that you will ever be very much troubled or bothered by circumcision and uncircumcision. You may not even be very much bothered as a practical problem with Jew and Greek as such. It is possible you will go through life and never even meet a Greek. And you might, the probability is less likely, but you might go many days without meeting a Jew. What I mean is this: that in practical and literal matters you may not be bothered about taking this scripture literally, "Where there is neither Jew nor Greek, circumcision or uncircumcsion," you may not find that constitutes any problem for you, whether the other things do or not, it need not come to us literally for any consideration, but what they represent.
If Paul were writing today, he would add a lot of other things to this sum. He would perhaps speak about Jew and Gentile, he might speak therefore about circumcision and uncircumcision, he might speak about Barbarians, and Scythian and the rest, but he would add a lot more. I am quite sure he would say, "Where there cannot be Baptist and Methodist and Brethren and all the rest of them, you might mention the whole lot." Well no, they just cannot be as such. It would rule out a lot of things, which man makes the basis of a relationship and a fellowship. He would say, "No, not one of those is the basis after all." The basis on which and on which alone we can meet, and must meet and determine to meet is, whether it be Baptist, or congregationalist or Methodist, or Lutheran or any of the others, even whether it be Roman Catholic, the basis on which we can have fellowship, and must seek to have fellowship, is the measure of Christ. And you may find some measure of Christ in the Roman Catholic or the Mormon. Oh, indeed you will, in many cases; it may not be in the system, but in the persons. And so you just have to say, "Where there cannot be this and that, for that is not the basis, but Christ." If I can find Christ, if Christ is there, I must search Him out, and I must make everything that can be made of any measure of Christ that is there and dismiss the other things, God said, shut your eyes to it.
I could give you some very practical examples of this. I am tempted to, but I think perhaps I had better not. But I think you see the point. Paul lists a lot of things, a whole lot of things, which divide men, which are the causes of the schism and of the frustration, because men will hold on to this ground and that ground and another ground which is either other than or extra to Christ. We are saying, here in this man, created by Christ, THIS NEW MAN which is corporate, only Christ obtains, Christ only; that is the ground. Now friends, this is not just teaching, this is not just things being said again, it is a positive challenge to us, a positive challenge and a real battleground, and it is not always easy to close your eyes, to definitely and deliberately close your eyes to the things, and only focus upon any measure of Christ that there may be and make everything of that. It is not always easy, there is something to be done and only as we do that shall we find integration,shall we have fellowship, and then there will be an expression of Christ.
(continued with # 14)