“… There is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarians, Scythian, slave and freedman, but Christ is all and in all.” – Colossians 3:11
We often talk about the difference between the East and West in present and past politics, socio-economic issues, and religion. By “East” we usually mean the Middle East, China, India, and the like. By West we mean Europe like Italy, Britain, Greece, etc. and in the past few centuries, the Americas. These two spheres of the world are very different in their outlook; they have risen and fallen in dominance in history; fought each other killing and maiming and enslaving. It has always been so. The East rose first in human history in the form of such empires as the Assyrians , Babylonians, and Persians. Then the West rose up in the Greek and Roman Empires. The back-and-forth battle for dominance continued through the Middle Ages up to today in our globalized world as we see continued debates (and violence) about Islam, Far Eastern religions, terrorism, democracy, Western influence, secularism, and really, everything under the sun.
But what astounds me is how God has brought East and West together by His redemptive plan in Christ. He placed the nation of Ancient Israel right in the crosshairs of East and West, for maximum exposure of His chosen people and Himself to both ends of the world. In the coming of Jesus, God combined the East and West into one in the process of welcoming the Gentiles to be his people. Jesus was an Eastern man but had his New Testament written in Greek, a western language that had permeated both East and West. He brought a new kingdom that does not get into the petty political or racist differences of earthly kingdoms but brings in members of every kind of human who simply believes in Jesus Christ.
The above verse makes this beautifully clear. Those who have seen or experienced the harsh differences, hate, and division between cultures can appreciate how liberating and redemptive this is. This is yet another example of how Jesus Christ annihilates all that is bad, and builds all that is good. As Charles Ryrie wrote, “In Christ, distinctions of race, class, and culture are transcended.” Amen.