In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland.  At the time of the invasion, more than just Nazi soldiers flooded the conquered territory, but German businessmen followed close behind, eager to make a profit from their countries new-found expanded borders.  One of the businessmen who arrived in Krakow, Poland in 1939 was named Oskar.  Oskar was able to bribe his way into ownership of a factory in Krakow that he staffed with various Jewish people who lived in forced ghettos in the community.  As time wore on, Oskar became more and more rich, while the Jewish workers in his factory became more and more oppressed.  Oskar was not the source of the Jews oppression (the Nazi’s SS force was) but he was profiting from the situation nonetheless.

After several months of forced residency in the Jewish ghettos, the Nazis began escalating their violence against the Jews, moving them into concentration camps.  It was at this time that Oskar began to see the horror of the Nazi’s “final solution.” 

So goes the first “act” of the the 1993 Academy Award winning movie “Schindler’s List.”  “Schindler’s List” tells the true story of Oskar Schindler’s transformation from a Nazi profiteer to “savior” of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.    When Director Stephen Spielberg decided to make this story into a movie, he decided to film it in black and white . . . an intentional play to make the film feel more like a documentary than a popcorn movie.  Though the movie lacks color throughout, there is one notable exception.  When the Jews were being rounded up in Krakow to be transported to concentration camps, Spielberg introduces a single character into the storyline that left an incredible impact on all who saw the film.  He did not introduce this character by having her deliver a powerful line of dialogue . . . we never even got to know her name.  Instead, Spielberg introduced her simply by painting her coat bright red . . . the only thing of color in an otherwise black and white movie.  We see her running through the crowds in Krakow, trying desperately to avoid the onslaught of the Nazis.  Later in the movie, however, we see her red coat strewn about a pile of dead bodies, reminding us that her mission to escape was unsuccessful.

As a piece of filmmaking, this was a brilliant move.  In a sea of faceless people, we suddenly cared about one individual girl.  I remember crying in the theaters when her coat appeared in the pile of dead bodies.  As a group we noticed her, and because we noticed her, we cared about her plight.

I was thinking about this today as I reflected upon Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:1-9.  In these verses Paul speaks directly to two groups of people who had NO POWER in the first century: children and slaves.  A parent in the first century (particularly the father) had the right to mistreat his children without consequence.  To an even greater degree, a master had no regard for the well being of their slaves.  Masters viewed slaves as “tools who could talk.”  Sadly the first century viewed children, slaves, (and to some degree) women as second or third class – void of all right and privilege.

But, in the Church of Jesus Christ, God is calling people to a different standard.  New Testament churches were made up of a variety of people: young and old, slave and free, male and female.  Apparently, the young church in Ephesus had all of these people worshipping together in the same room – something unheard of in the ancient world. 

In Ephesians 6:1-4, Paul gives a direct command to children.  By speaking to them directly, he was affirming the fact that they were “in Christ” (if they had trusted in Him), they were valued by God, and that He had expectations for their obedience.  He also instructed Fathers to build up their kids, not squashing their spirits. 

In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul speaks directly to slaves.  He sees them as FAR MORE than “tools who can talk,” he sees them as recipients of eternal blessing!  He shows their value by calling them to a life pleasing to the Lord, and he warns their masters to care for them and not abuse them in any way.

In a sense, Ephesians 6:1-9 shows God seeing the people who might otherwise blend into the crowd.  God “paints the coats” of the marginalized child or slave and says, “I see you.  I love you.  I want to live in relationship with you.  You matter to Me.” 

As the people of God this should do two things for us:

  1. If you are someone who feels marginalized for any reason (past sin, social status, age, health, income, marital status, etc.) know that GOD SEES YOU and God cares for you.  You may feel like no one else knows what you are going through, but God does and He values you, cares for you and redeems you in Christ.
  2. For all of us, these verses should be a reminder to care for all around us.  Everyone matters to God.  Everyone’s life has value.  Everyone you see is someone the Son of God felt was worth dying for.  This should motivate us to care for the marginalized around us.

We sometimes live in a nameless/faceless black and white world.  Thankfully Jesus colors the coats of some around us that we might notice them (as He does), and as we notice them that we might care about their plight.  All Christians are called “to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” regardless of what color our coats are.  He cares for us all.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church I will be preaching a sermon based on Ephesians 6:1-9.  The message will be part 11 in our “Packed” sermon series.  If you live in the area I hope to see you at Wildwood this weekend in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service.

For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:

Packed Schedule.001

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