For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
What describes you? What is the defining point about who you are?
You give your name. It conveys your gender and perhaps your nationality.
Have you ever had that feeling, in an initial conversation with someone else, that they are trying to nail you down? Where are you from? What’s your maiden name?
If you’re a pastor, then sooner or later comes: what denomination? How many people? (How can I pigeonhole you?)
Paul wouldn’t have any of it. It’s all very simple, he said. You have come to Christ. You are in Christ Jesus.
If a whole bunch of very different people were converging on one spot (let’s call that spot “Christ”), then the nearer they were to that point, the nearer they would be to each other, right?
I remember this being forcibly demonstrated to me, towards the end of a five hour extended delay at a dreary airport. When the call was finally given, it was as if hundreds of people from all over the airport were attempting to get through one set of double doors at the same time.
In the process, we entirely lost all distinction between young and old, male and female, nationality and social status, -or whether we were courteous or discourteous!- being now wholly defined by this radical new thing: Are you on the flight or not?
Do you see Paul’s point? This new fact of Christ is so important that everything else pales into insignificance. Are you on the flight or not?
There are some issues to clear up, of course, as you go through the double-doors. Your new identity papers have to be checked. A matter of relationship, faith, and baptism.
You are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
In Christ is Paul’s powerful phrase for describing this new relationship and lifestyle. It describes not only how we live towards God but also towards each other.
Those old distinctions are no longer relevant.
Imagine Paul saying this. There is now no difference between Jew and non-Jew. Paul was so proud of his ancestry. Elsewhere he wrote that he was circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews…
But he added… “ Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.”
Christ was more important than the distinction between Jew and non-Jew.
He goes on here, There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
In Christ, there simply cannot be any distinction between race, social status or gender.
Do you see just how radical this verse is?