For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11
What does your church look like? Not the building, but the people. Who comprises it? In the Old Testament, only those who were circumcised into Judaism and followed the Mosaic Law were part of God’s blessing and promises. While there were select times when mercy and blessing was granted to those outside of Israel, God’s chosen people were a particular ethnic group, confined within territorial boundaries. While anyone was welcome to join this people, they had to adopt Israelite customs in order to do so. Not anymore.
Even in the Old Testament, God through his prophets foretold that someday people throughout the world would flock to his kingdom and enjoy his blessings. The prophets themselves only understood a small bit of what would eventually take place, and perhaps thought that this kingdom would be an earthly, territorial one like the one that they lived in. But with the coming of Christ, his fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, and this new era with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the grand truth of God’s kingdom has been revealed. No longer are God’s people confined to a particular ethnic custom. Anyone, from any culture, is in Christ, receives his blessing, and will experience eternal life in the coming global kingdom of God.
In the Galatians and Colossians passages quoted above, Paul included the whole known Greco-Roman world: Jews, Greeks (Greco-Romans), Barbarians (non-Greek speakers) and Scythians (people from the Black Sea area). He also included both men and women, free people and enslaved people, which means that Christian belief and practice transcends gender and economic class divides. Do our churches reflect this? Do you welcome all?
Do you welcome the woman who comes to church in a t-shirt emblazoned with a Metallica logo? The man with dreadlocks or a mohawk? Are their poor people as well as rich people? Do we care for the poor, welcome the needy? Do we have a diversity in musical style, allowing people from different backgrounds to worship God in the form that they understand and enjoy most? God calls people from all walks of life, so that they all may walk in him. Do we, in our lives and our church, reflect that in how we treat people and worship together?