“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
According to Paul, the early Jesus-following teacher and pioneer of the faith, those who follow Jesus are one. There’s plenty of room for interpretation on how – but I see very little wiggle room on the what: we’re supposed to be together across radical differences. Somehow mysteriously united and welcome in him. He doesn’t say that differences fall away or that we are all alike. No, but that we are one in Jesus. United. Together.
We know from experience and history that this is not lived out very well. In fact, it feels something like the fathers of our nation claiming all men are created equal while holding slaves and forbidding women to vote. It feels like churches talking a lot about diversity and still being vastly segregated on Sundays, and others not even trying. Something doesn’t ring fully true about it based on our experience.
But what if the truth is still true whether we’re fully in it yet or not? What if, among Jesus-followers and God-seekers there is no “us and them” but only us? What could this actually look like? What would it mean for the people of God to live out radical togetherness and oneness?
We know one thing for sure: it looks like people who are significantly different from one another actually spending time together. So let’s start there. If we only spend time with people who are mostly like us we should pause and ask why, and ponder what we might do about that. It is possible to spend time with people of other races but not push too many other boundaries – like class, political beliefs or views on sexuality. To be radically together means we are finding ways to be with other Jesus-followers who don’t agree with us or look like us or live like us on a whole bunch of things, and yet still find ways to be one.
This week, let’s peel back some difficult layers in our own hearts and ask some tough questions, then move into the even tougher action. We know it won’t be easy and it could get pretty ugly at times. But there’s a beautiful promise of peace, joy, hope and deep, lasting love when God’s people live together as one. Indeed, it’s the truth and reality of God’s kingdom – already, but not quite yet.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff