These words appear in Colossians 3:11. What is the meaning? It is a beautiful passage on Christian unity.
In context two things are mentioned which divide men: (1) cultural – ethnical differences (v. 11). Men come from different geographical regions and even nationalities [v. 11: Greek, Jew, Scythian (Ukrainian/Southern Russian)]. They speak different languages (v. 11: Greek, Barbarian). They have different customs (v. 11: circumcision, uncircumcision). They are of different socio-economic standings (v. 11: bond, free).
(2) Sin (v. 5-15). Sin destroys relationships and divides people. Mentioned in context are: (a) sexual sins [v. 5: fornication, uncleanness (impurity NASB), inordinate affection (passion NASB/NKJV) concupiscence (evil desire NASB/NKJV)]; (b) materialism [v. 5: covetousness (greed NASB)]; (c) anger/emotional issues (v. 8: anger, wrath, malice); and (d) sins of the tongue [v. 8-9: blasphemy (slander NASB), filthy communication (abusive speech NASB, filthy language NKJV), lie].
These issues are still things which divide men today. There is always the challenge of cultural and ethnical differences. Just consider the diversity at the South Anchorage church of Christ. There are those of Native American origin, oriental Asian origin, Russian – Uzbekistan origin, those from the west, those from southern states and those from northern, those from the Midwest or middle America, those from Texas. Some are young and others old. Some are blue collar others white collared workers. Moreover, the great divide of mankind is still sin.
How can true unity be achieved and maintained? (1) “Christ is all.” He is all that is important. He is our life (Col. 3:4). This should be remembered. He is the drawing force which pulls us together and brings us around one table remembering Him. Instead of being divided by our culture – ethnical differences, we’re to be “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We’re to be as children in the same family (Galatians 3:26-28). We’re to be one body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:14-16; 4:1-6; Colossians 3:15). We’re Christians first and foremost. Earthly distinctions are secondary and should no longer divide us.
(2) “Christ is in all.” We’re to let Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17-19). We’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loves me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This indwelling, this surrendered life is not something which comes upon one irresistibility at the point of baptism (Galatians 4:19). It takes effort and maturity. One with such maturity will no longer habitually engage in sinful practices which cause division. Furthermore, when one with such maturity is sinned against, he’ll stand ready to forgive, even as Christ forgives (Colossians 3:12-13).
When “Christ is all, and in all”, beautiful unity will exist in the body of Christ. When “Christ is all,” men will not be divided over their earthly differences. When “Christ is… in all,” men will not be divided over sin issues. When “Christ is all, and in all,” we can deal with any differences or difficulty between us!