Galatians 3:23-29 (ESV)
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
There seems to have been some division in the Body of Christ in the city of Galatia. This city is now in modern Turkey and I wonder if the Christians there today are as divided as they once were when this letter was first read by them. It seems that the essence of this letter is as needed today for Christians worldwide as it was for these early followers of Jesus in this single city. If there is one lesson the COVID-19 pandemic should be showing us it is that we are equal and in this together. No one is immune as we face this crisis worldwide. God certainly is trying to get our attention across the globe by allowing this. I am sure that His call to love each other is at least one lesson He has for us. Why then does it seem like there is less love and more divisions being created as a result?
The Apostle Paul has been making the case to the Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians of Galatia that they don't need to listen to the Judaizers…a group of Christians who teach that it is essential to adopt Jewish customs and practices, especially those found in the Law of Moses, to be saved. He is summarizing the idea that God never intended the law to be the final solution for the problem of sin. Instead, it was meant to ''guard'' mankind, until the arrival of Christ. This freedom from the captivity of the law also transcends all other barriers: race, gender, wealth, health, and culture are all irrelevant to our relationship with Christ…the Savior. Anyone who belongs to Christ, by faith, is promised to be an heir. You know the word “heir” means “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death”. If you belong to Christ you are an heir to all the Kingdom of God has to offer. We are in this together as fellow heirs. Paul is saying to this group of Christians that they don't need to follow the law as these “false brothers” are saying in order to be saved (Galatians 2:4). By faith in Christ, and by faith alone, they are already full children of God Almighty (Galatians 3:7–9). They have been baptized into God's Spirit (who is in them). They have put on Christ like a robe and are covered by Him. What would they gain by trying to follow the law again? Nothing! Paul assures these believers that, in Christ, they have been made equal with everyone else who is in Christ. There are no “lesser” or “greater” Christians in the family of God. The culture we live in cannot create value distinction between us in our Father's eyes. Jews do not carry a higher rank than Greeks (non-Jews). Free people hold no greater honor than slaves. Men are not superior to women. No race is a "master race," nor any ethnicity inferior. There are some important questions all Christ followers should ask. The Apostle Paul is basically asking the Galatian Christians and anyone who says they are a Christian...Are you living out what you believe...that you are “in Christ? How is the Body of Christ as a witness of unity to a watching public? It seems that if we are in Christ that unity is what should be seen by people around us, even those who are not yet “in Christ”. Are we seen as a unified Body by the culture in which we live? Since none of us can be higher and none can be lower, we are equal in the eyes of God. Are we treating each other as such?
It seems that no matter what the current climate of the culture there should be a oneness among Christ followers. It is not about being liberal, conservative, or political or a-political. Unity should be the direct result of embracing the gospel. It is not a statement about the various roles any Christian may be called to fill in this life or the honor we may or may not be given as a follower of Jesus or a parent in a family in this world.
This passage is a call for us today, in this cultural climate to treat each other with equal honor and value as we are viewed in the eyes of God. That seems like it would be an answer to the part of the Lords Prayer that says..."Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Let's together learn to view each other with equal value.
Within our current culture we may honestly wonder if it is even possible to view each other as equal in this day and age. So many questions run through our heads as we think about it. Is it possible for followers of Jesus to be unified with so many denominations and buildings that have so easily separated us? We have so many ways to interprete the Word of God. How can we possibly value someone with such different political views from mine? Doesn't it seem impossible? How could we possibly be one Body with so many differences? If Christ holds the most honored position in the family of God, and if all Christians are "in Christ", shouldn’t we find unity to be second nature?
What Paul is saying to all who read this...it is not second nature. It takes a regular focus on who we are. What we can do is simply, yet profoundly, live like we believe. Decide along with me that we are together...“in Christ” and oneness is possible no matter what divides us. Unity starts with realizing we are in Christ and what we say and do flows from that fact. That is what the writer of Galatians is saying to any divided group of Christians.
What would our families look like if we were living life more like we are in Christ ...the one who is the head of us...the Body. How would Christians talk to and relate with each other? For me I need to actually ask daily...Christ are you the head or boss of my life? Am I in You by what I say and what I do?
Since all Christians are in Christ, let’s love one another out of reverence for Him…the head of this Body. Let's together show and teaching our children what it means to be equal in Christ...no matter what?