Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 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. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:23-29
Here's the thing about scripture: It's best that we take it all on, because when we carve it up into bits that are more digestible (doing a little "cut and paste" we start to flirt with errors of interpretation. For instance, look above. Take the first sentence on its own, or even with the second. Don't read any further. What do those lines say to you? To me, they say that until there is faith, I am stuck. I am stuck under something called "the Law" and until Jesus showed up life was not worth much. There is also a caveat...what happens if I am struggling with faith? What if I have doubts? What if my fear, my prejudices, my anxieties erode my faith?
I am really, really stuck.
Okay, now read on....Oh, thank God because faith IS here and that "Law" thing is not in charge after all. In fact I am free because in Christ Jesus I am adopted as a child of God. Granted, there is that faith thing again, but it comes AFTER the adoption. I will assume there is a grace period then, for me and all the other adoptees. So, for all us baptized, we have a new garment to wear. We are clothed with Christ. Not like those other, unwashed out there. We are in! Can I get an Amen? God really does love us!
There is no longer Jew or Greek (one of the GREAT divisons in the Pauline missions as they strove to follow Jesus and Paul's teachings). No label that says you are THIS, or that I am THAT. Okay, I guess we can work on that....it might take some time, but we can embrace that there is not an either or when it comes to the origin of our arrival. No Jew, no Greek: we can try that on for size....
No slaves. None. No one is an owned property.
Fine, emancipation: a challenge to be sure.......or....free? Then what are we?
Okay, and now on top of that....no male or female? Are you crazy?
See, that's the real, deep challenge of answering a call to join the body of Christ. We get radical acceptance from God and even enjoy adoption and new life as children of God and heirs of the kingdom as it is coming into the world. With that blessing, though, comes an invitation to let go of the things that most human beings use to define themselves over and against other people. We lose the privilege of prejudice, and with that we are called on to go past the Law as it stood and recognize that everyone is worthy not only of God's love but of the fellowship we share in Christ. Moreover, we are challenged further to embrace the manner in which they are expressing that worthiness.
We do not now, nor will we EVER wind up owning the truth when the Truth is the thing that sets all of God's children free.
Like I said....if we had only just stayed up at the beginning we wouldn't have to be doing what we are doing right now: wondering just how far we have stumbled away from that radical, joyful welcome to all that we are called to offer to everyone without exception....and then to be transformed by our relationships so that there is no longer ANY "them," only "us."