There is a 6 chapter book in the New Testament that is actually a letter from a man named Paul who did a complete 180 degree turnaround in his life after encountering Jesus. He wrote this letter-which would seem quite long to us-in an attempt to help a small house church in the town of Galatia not get lost in a list of rules and cultural prejudices.
So, if you are far away from the people you desperately need to get a message to, and the only means of communication is a courier who will travel by foot for a few weeks to deliver your message, you want to make sure you say everything on your heart, right? Most likely.
This letter is rich with challenges, inspiration and reasoning for why following the way of Jesus is all together different than any religious belief or secular life path they have experienced before. In the midst of so much cultural angst we are experiencing in race relations today, as well as the ethnic & religious xenophobia that has taken hold, these words resonate a truth that I would love for people of all belief systems and political opinions to take to heart:
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NLT
Here is what stands out to me. In this short sentence Paul addresses 3 cultural areas where the most profound relational gaps exist in his day:
- ethnicity and religion
- societal class systems
- gender roles
It’s a broad statement concluding an entire segment where he is trying to convince them to let go of assumptions that all people who follow Christ must conform to one group’s way of believing and living. It’s also a critique that this one way has some deeply flawed values needing correction.
Whether you follow the way of Jesus, or are a person of faith or not, I feel like these are words to live by in our global world! My faith tells me that these are the walls of prejudice, inequality and separation that have been broken down and we don’t need to, shouldn’t want to build them back up!
I hope to continue to take my cue for living into this kind of understanding and vision from a word of wisdom dated approximately 1968 years ago!