“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
The unity of the church is a creation of Jesus Christ. Our faith in His saving work and our response to that faith, baptism, unites us as children of God. The death and resurrection of Jesus has torn down all the walls of hostility that had previously divided people.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.” Because of Jesus’ work at the cross, hostility is done. Now we have peace and unity.
In Christ, there is no more ‘US vs. THEM’.
In the Galatians 3 text, Paul identifies three pairs of opposites that the work of Jesus has now united.
- Jew and Gentile—racial
- Slave and free—social
- Male and female—gender
Some scholars believe that Paul based his list of opposites on the morning prayer of a Jewish male. Every morning, a male Jew got on his knees, prayed the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 and then thanked God for three things:
- that he was born a Jew and not a Gentile
- that he was born a freeman and not a slave
- and that he was born a man and not a woman.
Paul may have prayed that prayer in the days when he was called Saul. But after meeting Jesus, he came to understand that this prayer no longer applied. Jesus brought unity.
Jesus has demolished the walls of division between these opposites. Now, ALL of them can come together under one roof and experience unity as the children of God. We are ALL heirs to God’s great promises. Jesus created unity and it’s up to us to maintain it (Ephesians 4:3).
Humans tend to categorize each other. For years, sociologists have been searching for a reason why we “prejudge” those who are different from us. Our tendency is to see ourselves and those like us as insiders. And anyone who is not an insider immediately becomes an outsider.
Who are the insiders? We are! US. Who are the outsiders? They are! THEM. We erect dividing walls based on occupation, bank balance, skin color, gender, religion, college, and a multitude of other things and we hang a big ol’ sign on the wall declaring that it’s “US vs. THEM”.
And then we expend energy building up US while tearing down THEM. Sunday morning, I will make the statement that “Texas is the greatest state in the union” and I expect to hear more than one “amen”. But what does that do to the folks in the room from California or Ohio or Oklahoma? It alienates THEM from US and puts up a wall.
But Paul makes it abundantly clear that in Christ, there is no more ‘US vs. THEM’.
Because of the unity Jesus created through his death and resurrection, group labels are now irrelevant. There is neither deaf nor hearing, there is neither white nor Hispanic, there is neither Aggie nor Longhorn, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This transformation into oneness happens at baptism. “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The NIV says that at baptism, we were clothed with Christ.
When we came to faith in Jesus and expressed that faith in baptism, our sins were washed away and we were clothed with Jesus. Now we all look alike in God’s eyes. We are all children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.