You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In today’s scripture the Apostle Paul addresses bias in his world that carried into the church. The church was to be a place of inclusion…and not exclusion. His point is that all Christians have been given the same position in Christ and are viewed by God as His children (“You are all sons of God…”).
Christian fellowship, worship, and ministry should not exclude anyone by race (“Jew nor Greek”), social class (“slave nor free”), or gender (“male nor female”).
God’s gift of eternal life is for all who will receive it. It can’t be earned, bought, or passed on through family inheritance. Anyone who desires a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ can have it through faith (“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”)
Early on, in my first pastorate, I encountered a very troubling situation involving racial prejudice. One Sunday morning a black family visited the church. Later that day there was a scheduled deacon’s meeting. In fact, it was my first with that group of men as their pastor.
When I showed up for the meeting, I sensed that something was amiss. Once we were all assembled one of the deacons arose and quickly shut the door. As soon as he sat down he began to speak. “Preacher, what are you going to do about those (N-word) in our church?” Others began to join in. “If they show up again you don’t have to give an invitation to receive Christ. They’re just here to stir up trouble.”
I was stunned and shocked by what I was hearing, and I could not let their thinking go unchallenged. “Christ’s message of salvation is for everyone,” I said, to which they responded: “But you don’t have to give an invitation at the end of the service. What will happen if they become church members?”
“If they become church members then we will love them and treat them as one of the family,” I said, now thinking that my pastorate was about to come to an end. “Forbidding them to come into the church and denying them the opportunity to become Christians would be contrary to our Lord’s instruction. Now, what else do you want to talk about today?”
Much to my relief, they moved onto other things and the subject never again came up.
Before you go casting stones at the aforementioned church it should be pointed out that every church has sin issues that must be overcome. The church is made up of people all of whom are sinners. There is no such thing as a perfect Christian or a perfect church.
More important than pointing the finger and condemning others for their sin is taking a close look at ourselves in the spiritual mirror. Is there anyone with whom you would not be willing to share your faith? Is there anyone from whom you would withhold the good news of Jesus Christ? “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16)
Jesus’ love for all people, with no exceptions, drove Him to the cross. His love was sacrificial and is unconditional. Our love for others should be a reflection of His amazing love. There is no room for prejudice in the church.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Your Part in the Great Commission
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.