Tuesday 22 March 2022

Bible Book:

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. (v. 26)

Galatians 3:15-29 Tuesday 22 March 2022

Psalm 104:24-35


In modern western societies we most naturally focus on our own individual human lives and our right to determine our own personal identity. That’s not the way people see themselves in many other societies, nor was it the understanding of being human in the world of the Bible. For people at the time, identity was much more corporate; the way to become truly themselves was by participating in something bigger. It’s worth bearing this in mind as Paul continues to develop his argument to counter what he sees as an exclusive and misleading version of Christianity.

God’s promises to Abraham are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ; he is the true child of Abraham. So, Christians share in these promises, not through their identity as Jews or Gentiles, men or women, slaves or free, but through sharing in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is the sign of this participation in Christ. In the early centuries, as new Christians came out of the water of baptism, they were dressed in a white robe as a sign of their new life in Christ. It was if they were leaving behind their old identity and entering into a new way of being human, one shaped by the person of Christ.

Verse 28 (“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”) is rightly used to counter exclusion and prejudice within the Christian community. Sexism, racism and homophobia (to take just three obvious examples) all run counter to this fundamental truth that we are united in the transformed and transforming humanity of Jesus Christ. But it should also make us question some of the current focus on identity politics. Taking this verse seriously means that we should not make our sexuality, our gender, or our ethnic identity (whatever it might be) our most important reality. Paul is proud of his Jewish heritage and identity, and of his Roman citizenship. Nevertheless, he doesn’t see either of these as his deepest reality. Instead, he is content to be the person he is through sharing in Christ.

To Ponder:

  • How would you define your personal identity? If you are a Christian, what difference does that make to your sense of who you are?
  • How different would the Church be if it took verse 28 seriously?
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