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You are All One in Christ Jesus

Equality has been a hot-button topic in the political realm lately.  The particular issue getting attention at present concerns personal income.  One side believes that it is unfair for some people to earn more money than others, while the other side believes that it is unfair to take money from those who earn it and give it to others.  This conflict of opinions is indicative of the difficulty surrounding the concept of equality.  If equality is defined as every person being exactly the same as every other person, then it is obvious that equality is impossible.  Every person is unique, so equality can never be achieved in terms of abilities, physical traits, personalities, preferences, and other personal differences.  This nation's founding document states that "all men are created equal," but the equal value of every soul in the eyes of the Creator does not remove the distinctions among individuals and the natural inequalities that result from those distinctions.  There will always be some people who earn more money, get more attention, live longer, or are blessed in some ways more than others.  So then, equality among people will always be limited in this world.

Among the children of God, there is a measure of equality that transcends our distinctions in this world.  In Galatians 3:28, the Scripture says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  A careful analysis of this verse reveals its meaning.  The letter to the Galatian churches was written to correct their misunderstanding that it was necessary to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved.  Paul taught them that through the gospel God now saves any person who has faith in Christ Jesus.  Now, it is not the Jews exclusively who are God's children, but rather it is anyone -- Jew or Gentile -- who has faith in Christ.  This is stated explicitly in Galatians 3:26, which says, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."  Paul emphasized that all who put on Christ in baptism have equal standing as children of God.  Notice verses 26-28 together, and give particular attention to Paul's emphasis on "all":

26Foryou are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Regardless of the distinctions that exist in this world, all who are in Christ are God's children and share an inheritance in Christ.

Although we have a measure of equality in Christ and an equal hope, the distinctions among us in the world remain.  When Paul wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female," he did not mean that people lose their individual distinctions when they become Christians.  Obviously, there are still differences in ethnicity, status, and sexes within the church.  These distinctions can never be removed in this world, but our attitudes concerning these should be conformed to God's will.  God's word directs us not to hold our faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism (Jas. 2:1).  This means that we can acknowledge the differences between Christians without favoring one as better than another.

Likewise, equality in Christ does not undo the necessity of order and submission in the world.  We are equal to those who govern us in terms of worth in the eyes of God (there is no partiality with Him -- Rom. 2:11), but we must submit to their authority by the ordinance of God (Rom. 13:1-7; 1Pet. 2:13-17).  Wives are fellow heirs of the grace of life with their husbands, but they must be in subjection as the church is to Christ (Eph. 5:22-24; 1Pet. 3:1, 7). Employees are not below their employers or bosses, but it is right in the sight of God for employees to render service and for employers to be just and fair (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-4:1; 1Pet. 2:18).  In the church, elders do not have a greater claim to hope than any others, but it is necessary for members of the local congregation to submit to them (Heb. 13:17). In all situations, equality does not invalidate submission, and submission has no bearing on equality.

As Christians, let us recognize the blessed meaning of being one in Christ Jesus. Each Christian has different functions, but all have the same purpose (1Cor. 12:12-27).  Each has a unique role in the world and in the church, but all have the same hope and reward (1Pet. 1:3-5).  Each has his own burden to bear, but all share one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2, 6).  Each has his own responsibilities before God, but all have the same God and Father "who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-6).  In Christ, we are unique, different, separate, united, and equal. The world can never achieve such equality, but the children of God are all one in Christ Jesus.

Stacey E. Durham



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