In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
Galatians 3: 28-29 The Message
Paul’s vision of the church in these verses is an inspiring one. He paints a vision of a community where people are not divided or segregated based on race, gender, or vocational status. It is a vision of equality.
Galatians 3:28 has inspired those fighting for equality in our world. In fact, the verse even has its own article on Wikipedia.
The subject of racism is in the forefront of much of the news, and it is understandable why. In the midst of differing opinions, let us lift up this vision of equality within God’s house. There is much to be learned from others, as others have much to learn from us. We need to pray for open hearts, open minds, and listening and tender ears.
I am far from the first person to bring up these verses in response to racial tensions. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to this verse in a pamphlet about racism. He also referred to parts of this verse at the conclusion of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
In these verses, the basis for equality is a common relationship with Jesus Christ. We don’t know the full extent of the issues Paul was addressing in Galatia when he wrote these words, but it is safe to assume that there were some divisions in the church. Reminding the Galatians of their common faith in Christ is where the quest for equality begins…
A Prayer for Racial Harmony from the Church of Scotland
God and Father of all, in your love you made all the nations of the world to be a family, and your Son taught us to love one another. Yet our world is riven apart with prejudice, arrogance, and pride. Help the different races to love and understand one another better. Increase among us sympathy, tolerance, and goodwill, that we may learn to appreciate the gifts that other races bring to us, and to see in all people our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Save us from jealousy, hatred, and fear, and help us to live together as members of one family at home in the world, sons and daughters of one Father who live in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: St. Andrew Press, 1994)