Differences; April 27, 2019

Galatians 3:28-29 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I quote verse 28 as the basis for gender equality every time I do marriage counseling, to tell the husbands that though they are organizationally the head of their household, (Ephesians 5:23) they are not of greater value in the eyes of God, and they are to walk in all respect and humility. However, these days some people are insisting that gender is a social construct, in defiance of science and common sense. That’s not what this is saying at all. This is saying that whatever your situation or condition as far as the world is concerned, if you have been born again in Christ by faith, (John 3:3) you are an equal heir of all the promises of God. That is absolutely huge, but it doesn’t destroy our differences. Paul himself expounded on the importance of differences in 1 Corinthians 12 and elsewhere. Saying that a man is a woman if he feels like it, or vice versa, is denying the very necessary differences God built into us. What Paul is speaking against here is the human tendency to rank everyone by value. It is when we treat differences as indicative of intrinsic value that we get into trouble. Going back to Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 12, “If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:19-20) Unity does not mean uniformity! In the Church we should be celebrating both our unity and our differences, rejoicing in how we supply each other’s needs. That’s how marriage should be, and ultimately, how society as a whole should be. That we aren’t there yet doesn’t mean that we are not to be aiming for that goal. However, the way to get there is not at all to deny that differences exist. Rather, it is to respect each other as being of fully equal value.

Growing up as a Caucasian in Japan, I have always been aware of differences. On my first visit to the US, shortly before turning four, I insisted on speaking Japanese to the first African-American person I met, because to me, anyone with skin darker than my parents’ had to be Japanese. I certainly didn’t consider them to be of any less value. Throughout my life I have met people with a wide variety of abilities and disabilities. I have learned that none of those things make those people any less – or more – human than I am. At the same time, I know that different people have different functions, in society and in the home. I learned very early that I was not my parents! As a pastor, part of my task is to make the believers comfortable in their differences, each supplying what the Lord has given them and rejoicing in the unity of value and purpose that we have in Christ.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for today, and all You have planned in it. There are a wide variety of things to be done. Help me recognize the task at hand and focus fully on it, not being distracted by what is ahead but doing each thing as unto You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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