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June 15, 2020

Our Unity in Christ!

“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28 (MSG)

When the Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Galatia there had been great division between racial groups, gender inequality and social standing. The ugly face of racial discrimination, ignorance and injustice threatened the health and life of this young fellowship. It was said that Jewish males at this time would greet each new day by praying, “Lord, I thank You that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” (Life Application Bible notes) How’s that for a feeling of superiority? Can you imagine a church with those kinds of distinctions? Who would want to join such a fellowship of believers where some were more preferred while others were disdained and discriminated against?

The strength and health of a church is in its unity. We are all one in Christ! In the 1960’s, Peter Scholtes, a parish priest at St. Brendan’s on the south side of Chicago was leading a youth choir out of the church basement and was looking for an appropriate song for a series of ecumenical, interracial events. When he couldn’t find one, he wrote one I remember singing in my student days near the end of the civil rights movement. The lyrics of this song seem to put Paul’s admonition to the church in Galatia to music. It’s a song we need today as well.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Jesus prayed in John 17 that His followers would all be one, so that the world would believe in Him. There is power in unity. I love the way The Message paraphrases Galatians 3:28, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” This is a unity in diversity. We have different roles and different functions. We come from different races, different colors and different genders and socio-economic levels but in Christ Jesus, we are one! “Among us you are all equal!” And what is it that makes us equal? Paul tells us, “… we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The Passion Translation puts it like this, “And we no longer see each other in our former state – Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female – because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.” Praise God! Faith in Jesus Christ transcends all our differences and makes us all one – of equal value to God and to one another – each one essential and belonging to the other!

What does this all mean today? It means we must repent of imposing distinctions that Christ has removed! Because all Christ followers are heirs with Jesus, no one is more privileged than or superior to anyone else. When we allow differences to separate us from one another in Christ we are disobeying God’s Word.

It also means we must be more intentional in seeking out those who are different from us and build relationships of trust and love through our unity in Christ. Then the world will know we are Christians by our love!