Galatians 3:23-28 (AD 48)
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (v.28).
In the early church, many people suffered grievous discrimination and persecution because of their Christian faith. That made it all the more saddening when Paul saw that there was favouritism and a measure of discrimination inside the church. For example:
Women were concerned, because of a very male-orientated culture.
Slaves were concerned, because society thought of them as being of less worth than free people. They were regarded by many as mere property, as was their status under Roman law.
Rich people were favourably treated, even though many of them were guilty of neglecting and/or taking advantage of the poor.
And the church had a Gentile problem. It was changing though, as Peter moved forward, retreated and then progressed immeasurably in his love for and treatment of Gentile Christians.
Paul said that our equality before God is not down to measuring our performance, attributes, status or contributions. God gives us different roles and gifts, but he makes us of equal worth. There is not one innate or achievable human characteristic that can make any of us of more, or less, special to God. Nothing that makes us superior, or inferior, to anyone else.
Paul did not claim that there is no difference between people. For example, elsewhere he was very clear that Jews were given blessings that Gentiles weren’t, that slaves and slave owners have different responsibilities, and that men and women have different roles. But those many and important differences exist without there being any effect on a person’s worth or value.
The Galatian Christians were greatly comforted to hear this radical truth that kicked against what most people thought. Especially as most Galatians were Gentiles, likely more than half were women, and some were slaves.
Maybe you think you are somehow less important to God than other people. Less important perhaps, than someone with different gifts, or who looks different, or sounds different. That God really loves some people, but merely puts up with you. God says that’s a lie. You are in Christ in the same way every Christian is in Christ, and you are heirs to the promises of God. Just like every Christian is.
Praise and thank God for the radical equality that we have in Christ. Let that create a humility so we always come alongside people rather than talk down to them. And a confidence that looks to God for the approval of a Father, and not live in fear of the judgement of other people.
Keswick Ministries is a non-denominational organisation that runs conventions around the world (organised locally), and publishes literature, to support churches as they disciple Christians and spread the gospel.