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.

Galatians 3: 28

 

Even for those of us who have always lived in places where equality was the publicly stated intent of the community, it was not truly present in the practices and the underlying beliefs of our culture. This is so because equality is not something that our world recognizes as desirable. So, it is one of the greatest causes of disagreement and of strife that exists in our world to this day. The moment that one person has power over another, there is inequality, and where power of any sort exists, those who have it will develop a drive to increase and to perfect it, and those who do not have it will strive to overthrow their superiors and to claim power for themselves. This conflict has been tormenting our world since very early in our tortured history. Now I recognize that God has created and ordained various structures and systems of authority in our world so that there would be order and peaceful engagement among people. Yet, He also desires for those systems of governance to be ones that seek to serve the needs of those governed and to strive for justice and peace in this world.

 

Unfortunately, people are almost never committed to these higher purposes when it comes to actually living out our days. We desire to have more than we do now, we are fearful of people who come from other places or who look and act differently than us, we believe that some people are inherently inferior, and we hold up affiliations such as race, nationality, and gender as the highest determinate of value and worth. All of this thinking is the result of the brokenness of our world; so, all of it falls outside of God’s desired approach to accurately and righteously viewing other people. The simple fact is that all of humanity was created in God’s image. Thus, every deviation, difference, and distinctive that exists among us is a part of the greater whole that is a reflection of the greatness and the expansiveness that is God. Even out gender is a reflection of this Godness in us, and in its totality is an important part of the way that God has imparted His creative nature to His greatest creation, people.

 

Paul’s letter to the people of Galatia was very practical; he was addressing real life in the world where they were living then. This is still the nature of his words of Godly wisdom today. The specific issues of being Jewish or Greek and of being a slave or a free person may not be as significant today, but the nature of these human relationships and the conflicts that arise from them is very present among us, and his third broad category of gender has never stopped causing tension and disagreement. In God’s eyes these issues of race, nationality, societal status, wealth, and gender do not separate people and determine our worth or our right to be treated with dignity and respect. These differences should lead us to be more open and to enter into dialogues that can result in understanding and deeper relationships. The sort of openness that leads to stepping outside of our comfortable circles of acquaintances and to engage fully and honestly with others is risky and for most of us it is hard to initiate. Yet, this is where Christ’s presence in and with us comes into clear focus and is of supreme importance. It is in Christ and through Him that we are led into an understanding of the equality of God’s kingdom on earth. The only power that matters in this process of entering into relationships with people is Christ’s as He provides us with the strength of character and the desire to love all others that are at the center of His nature. As we submit our wills to the Lord’s and grow in Christ, we will see Him and His face when we look upon and engage with all other people in our world.

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