Oneness not sameness
Notes from the pastor

 “For you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Paul declares, “And if you are in Christ, you are a descendent of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.”  Paul says that we are inheritors of a promise. And what is that promise?  It is that God will not abandon the world, least of all humankind.  The Galatian Christians have been liberated by their incorporation into the Christ event.  It is for them and for all a new, free, and mature reality.  Any prior location or identifier — i.e., Jewish or Greek — is an immature confinement of one’s identity.  We have been pulled into the risen Christ; all previous categories no longer matter.
Paul’s argument in Galatians is that the faithfulness of Jesus in his death and resurrection has opened up a new way of being, such that everyone who is in Christ has entered into a new relationship with God and the world.  This age brings the fullness of Christ, when classism, racism, sexism, all –isms and violent tendencies that divide humankind over and against the unifying work of the Spirit, are destroyed.  Yet, the world as we know it insists again and again on propping up divisions that Christ’s death has undone through violence, coercion, and implicit discrimination.  These are reminders of the divisiveness that lies in every human heart unaware of the deep love that claims us as beloved children of God in Christ. 
Paul writes that now being “in Christ” (which, by the way, is the most used phrase in the New Testament. Paul uses it 164 times!), it is no longer possible for them to be Jewish or pagan, slave or free, male and female. Whatever identifiers have reduced their personhood to less than a child of God have been rooted down in the soil of the crucified and risen Jesus.   In Christ, the world has been moved beyond whatever categories by which we classify each other’s worth. Whatever was grounds for status no longer matters because in Christ the nature of the universe is love; everything is in relationship to everything else, from the smallest atoms cycling around, the planets moving around stars, galaxies colliding with one another, people being intimately drawn together in love. 
Later, Paul will ask the Galatian Christians, “But now, after knowing God (or rather, being known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless world system?  Do you want to be slaves to it again?” (Gal. 4:9).  In other words, “Why would you go back under the guard of lies that incite fear of others?  Why would you enslave yourself to the guardianship of rules and religion that set you apart from other people for whom Christ has died?”
We are called to oneness, not sameness. The work of the Holy Spirit draws all cultures together as one people as the body of Christ in and for the world. The Spirit of Christ makes unity possible in all forms of relationship, however strange and difficult. The goal of the church, then, isn’t to create a culture where everyone thinks and acts and believes the same. It’s not a community where we stifle diversity and giftedness. Instead it is a common-unity in Christ, a shared identity that draws together our diversities so that God’s image may be seen and God’s call received by others. As we enter Lent, let us do so striving for unity and openness to God’s Holy Spirit! 

Pastor Patrick  
Last Published: March 7, 2019 11:45 AM
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