Neither Jew nor Gentile

This is written by Hannah-Rivkah Perkin. She works for Breaking Barriers, a charity that helps refugees into employment, and has been going to St Mary's for two a half years.

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Reflection

The context of these verses is that Paul, who wrote the book, has found out that a group of people called the ‘Judeaizers’ are challenging the foundation of his teaching that salvation comes through faith in Jesus. Instead, they are trying to convince Galation Christians that they need to follow Jewish law (Torah) in order to obtain righteousness and therefore receive salvation.

In addition, racial discrimination was happening in Galatia, where Jews were hanging out with Gentiles (non-Jews) and then pretending to not hang out with them when other Jews were around.

Although Paul is trying to say various things in this passage, one of the main points he is making is about inclusion. By pointing out that the Galatians have been ‘baptised into Christ’ and are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ he is reminding them that Christ is their new identity and that they have become part of his family. The same goes for us. Christ is our primary identity marker, and other identities such as race, politics, sexuality, gender and finances have become secondary. This is not to say that differences are a bad thing, but it is to say that we should be inclusive of those around us.

What is stopping you from including others in the church family? What thought patterns or assumptions are getting in the way? Or is it pride? Fear? Apathy?

Let’s choose to see the people around us differently today. Let’s choose to show God’s love, let’s choose to talk to people we don’t normally talk to or simply offer people a smile.

Lord, please teach us not to draw lines between us and others. Please help us to treat members of the church, and those who are not part of it, with love, care, and respect.
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