June 3, 2007 Matthew

Cultural Isolation and the Church – Galatians 3:28

America was never a cultural ‘melting pot’–that has been established. What is interesting is the the lack of mixing among Christians. It’s actually harder to be a congregation of diverse cultures than it is to be a congregation of just one culture.

It doesn’t mean that the different cultures are unable to get along. But then what does it mean? Is not every Christian’s identity found in one heavenly nation and royal kingdom?

But pick almost any city in America. The Koreans have their own church, the Chinese have their own church, the Africans have their own church, the Russians, the Arabs, the Messianic Jews, and so on. What does it mean? Why are they not all found intermingled?

“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.” Galatians 3:28

From this scripture we can get a sense of the unity that not only binds every believer in the body of Christ, but which also supplants our identities and associations. In this sense it might be understood that there should be no problem to have multi-cultural congregations, and indeed there are some in existence. Yet there remains a very definite division in the body of Christ along the lines of cultural heritage. This very well may be due to a lack of conforming to the image of Christ who is all, and in all, and through all. However the scripture also mentions “slave nor free” and “male nor female”, and this clearly shows that there would remain distinctions according to the flesh, but whose identity is still supplanted by the “new creation” (2Cor 5:17). The old has passed and the new has come. Therefore this verse is understood spiritually: we are bound together by a common spiritual identity. The rest of our carnal nature, whether it is a slave or freeman, Russian or American, male or female, is still with us and so still defines us. This is probably stating the obvious.

Nevertheless, it should make sense that the body of Christ should be able to come together cross-culturally just as it comes together cross-sexually, and cross-generationally while maintaining the distinct differences. The distinct differences are also a part of the purposes and glories of God. For just as God in the beginning created us “male and female” (Gen 1:27) for his glory, so he created us American and Asian, Japanese and Arab, and so much more, all for his glory.

Therefore we need to shine these diverse glories in Christ together in the Church, the redeemer of ethnicity and the redeemer of man and woman, but in whom we are spiritually neither male nor female, American nor Asian, slave nor free but equals as brothers and sisters.

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