Well, sure. :)
Two huge, huge statements Paul makes in the NT are these:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."- Gal 3
"In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us."- Col 3
Here’s the basic problem when we come at passages like this in Scripture. In a different time, a different place, a different society, we have a hard time connecting with how radically freeing Paul’s words (all of Paul's words) sounded to their original audience.
Paul drops an atom bomb on them. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, upper class, lower class- in terms of your relationship with God, none of that matters. You don’t have to be a certain class to be accepted by God. There is to be no Christian version of the caste system.
You don’t have to be a certain gender to be in relationship with God- God made men men and women women and while I don’t believe His intention is to turn us all into sexless neuters, neither does God say- because of your gender, men get THIS much of Me, and because of your gender women, you get this much of Me.
All the distinctions that humans excel at making of race, and class, and gender- These do not matter when it comes to talking about relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, imagine... You sit in first century Colossae. Some of you are Jews, some are Gentiles. It’s an amazing thing you sit in the same space, worshiping the same God. Thrown into that mix is this: some of you are men and some are women. In the midst of a society that segregates worship according to sex, especially those with the Jewish background, you sit in a mixed crowd. Amazing that the Gospel has done this.
And some of you are rich, some poor, some slaves, some slave owners. And yet, in this place, you all have a voice. In this community, you are all valued. Nowhere else in the world is this true that slaves and slave owners both speak and are heard- but it’s true in the ecclesia- the gathering of people following Jesus.
And so Paul writes these words to these people in this time- people whose entire world has already been turned upside down by the Gospel and he writes these words. Slave, free, rich, poor- doesn’t matter. And I’m sure they are wondering some things, especially knowing that these letters get read to a mixed group- some of the people hearing this were not Christians. These letters got copied and sent on to other cities, to a wide audience. Paul knows that people are watching and listening. Men and women, rich and poor, mixing races, mixing classes, slaves and free… How far does this go? Slaves eating at the same table as free??
Is this a danger to the Empire? Our whole economy is based on slave labor. Our whole society is based on patriarchy. Are these Christians who don’t seem to respect either the Jewish or the Greek ideas of the superiority of the male going to try and destroy the whole fabric of our society? Are these people dangerous???
Yes…but not the way you think.
Is Jesus against slavery? Yes, yes, yes.
Is he for armed revolt and slaves throwing off their slavery and their masters? No, no… no.
He’s for a completely different approach. A revolution infinitely more subtle and harder to put down, to crush.
pt 2 tomorrow-
(This series is adapted from a sermon I preached during our time in Colossians. I'm heavily indebted to Walsh and Keesmaat and their book Colossians Remixed)