Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Categorical Christians

"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."

                                                                         Paul's Letter to the Galatians 3:27-29

In human history, we have a need to create status and hierarchy.  It is one way that we measure ourselves against others.  How am I doing?

In elementary school, it became apparent in many different ways.  For some it is grades or being put into different levels of reading or math.  For others, it comes in athletic prowess.  And then others rely on their looks, their wit or their social game - how many friends do they have?

Wolves determine status and order through play and
we are not so different.
These can all become measurements of success or failure.

I wish that I could say that we mature and set them aside in adulthood but we don't.

Adults begin to measure themselves against one another by their jobs and their possessions.  What kind of home do you own?  What kind of car do you drive? What kind of clothes do you wear?  What kind of social scene do you frequent?

Of course, status is set aside once we enter the sanctuary, right?

Paul in his letter to the Galatians seems to be reminding us that these expressions of status are merely our way of maneuvering through life with one another.  When we are in Christ, these symbols melt away - at least in God's estimation.

Before joining United Methodism, my family of origin was a part of the Assemblies of God when I was a child.  Within that denomination, there is a strong emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues.  The critique of this emphasis (made by Paul to the Corinthians) is that those who exhibit the gifts may feel superior to those who don't.  It is as if God must favor me over you.

The need to compare and measure ourselves - even within God's favor - is not easy to set aside.  Yet it seems to be Paul's vision of what we should attempt as the church.

Sometimes we interpret this to mean that all categories are bad or unnecessary.  I don't think this is what Paul is saying either.  For instance, in order to transcend racism, some people make the statement that they are colorblind.  How do we celebrate who we are while not holding ourselves as superior to one another?  As we explore Galatians chapter 3 this week in worship, we will be delving into these questions and more.

In Christ,


Picture by _paVan_ via Flickr.com.  Used through the Creative Commons license.  

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