December 30, 6th Day of Christmas IDENTITY UNITED IN CHRIST, ethnic unity
Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
I’m not sure we fully grasp these words; we certainly have a different understanding than did the people of Galatia. The Jews knew they were God’s chosen people. Though they were born his chosen people, the heart aspect of a relationship to God had escaped many of them. Paul went to great lengths to drive home that there was more than ethnicity involved in being God’s children. Jesus challenged the Jewish religious leaders again and again on this very point. Faith was essential. No one could keep the law perfectly. Simply being Jewish was not enough.
In reading the last paragraph above you can begin to see how striking it would be to Jews, Greeks, and Romans realizing how radical this truth was considering their very separated cultures. The gospel unites all ethnicities as one people under God. Now you have unity between slave and free, male and female. The gospel is the most inclusive faith the world has ever seen.
Have you noticed how hard some factions in society work to separate people into various groups where each defines itself by its own system of beliefs and values. The secular mind seeks its identity with ethnicity, with sexual identity, with victimhood, with political perspective, with various causes to champion, and/or with various moral or social values to promote. To this mind, being united as brothers and sisters in Christ is a foreign concept, for God has no place in the secular mind. There is no Christian worldview in the secular mind so why would we expect anything other than the bitterness and anger toward other people groups. For this mindset, the starting place is not God but self. There is little interest in any kind of unity among people of this persuasion. Differing ethnicities are viewed with suspicion or even condemnation as people struggle to accept or discover their own identities.
The beauty of the gospel is that being united by saving faith in Christ and dying to self and being buried with him in baptism brings a oneness that spans ages, cultures, languages, economic states, and all peoples. As people are committed to Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit transforms personal values, uniting people with the mind of God; put simply, he is Lord of all. Ideally, every follower of Christ endeavors to live out a Christian worldview.
As you walk around today doing what you normally do, look at the people around you, (don’t stare!), and realize every person can be one of Abraham’s heirs through faith in Jesus. Pray for them as you go your way and pray for all those who have yet to discover their true identity in Christ.
Music: “Mary, Did You Know?” Vocative with Mark Lowrey
Our Father in heaven, this world is filled with nations, tribes, ethnic groups, peoples and factions hopelessly fractured and warring with one another. Nations squabble. People groups within nations wage vitriolic verbal wars. Civility barely survives. Lord God of heaven and earth, Creator of all that is seen and unseen, source of redemption, love, and healing, grant that as this new yar begins, the birth of the Savior may in some remarkable way point this troubled world to unity in the person of your perfect Son, our Savior. May the celebration of the nativity by millions of your children serve to draw many others to repent of their ways and callous hearts and receive forgiveness, discovering the joy of true fellowship with all peoples as brothers and sisters in Christ. And Lord, may we be useful to you in that process. In our Savior’s name we pray. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp
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