Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week, as part of our series on the identity of Jesus, we’re going to study how followers of Jesus are meant to avoid divisions and be one.
In the book of Galatians, an early Chrsitian leader, Paul, included an extensive teaching about Abraham. Abraham was an iconic figure for Jews like him – the patriarch from thousands of years before whom God had promised would be father of a great nation, numbering like the stars in the sky. He was known to have been a faithful man, even though he did have human failings and sinned.
Paul had to teach about him, because questions would have arisen about Abraham’s place in God’s plan since Jesus’ death and resurrection. If Jesus was indeed the “way the truth and the life” and “no one can come to the father” except through him, what about those like Abraham who lived long before Jesus was born, died and resurrected? This is of keen interest to the Jewish Christians, since this is their family history, and about the God they have known and worshipped for millennia. They don’t want to hear that God has turned his back on all those promises.
It’s a bit complicated, but he concludes that God is good on his promises, and that people are saved by faith in God’s grace, whether they lived before, during or after Jesus’ time on earth. What matters is their faith in God’s coming salvation, which we now know happened through Jesus Christ.
He wants the Christian community to avoid dividing itself by Jewish or non-Jewish ethnicity, or any other line. Here’s the famous passage he wrote about this:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29 ESV)
These were the major divisions of his day and context. There was a significant and visible difference between the Jews who remained faithful to their laws and religion, and their occupiers who were a blend of many nations, but all of them influenced by Greek society and culture. So, Paul says there is neither Jew, nor Greek under Christ Jesus.
In their society there were also strict gender divisions. Women were clearly subordinate, held in low regard in some ways even despised in that culture and time. So he makes it clear that shouldn’t continue in Christ’s church either. They are all one…regardless of the usual societal divisions in their day.
Question: If Paul was writing this today, what common dividing lines do you think he would contrast in order to make the same point? What divides people today?