All One In Christ Jesus
Unbelievers are often surprised that everybody who comes to Jesus is equally valued by Him. Unlike many religious philosophies, there is no 'hierarchy of closeness to God'. Ministers, deacons, bishops and even the apostles themselves are no more acceptable to God than the weakest humble believer. The reason is that our status does not depend on our education, scholarship, management role, spiritual discipline or spiritual service; indeed, those who teach others will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Every person, whatever their role or status, is a sinner who needs mercy and grace; and when they repent and receive God's salvation, they are all equally accepted, loved and welcomed by Him.
Jesus Christ does not distinguish between racial backgrounds. That was difficult for the Jewish believers in the Early Church to understand, until they remembered Christ was the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, that through him and his special descendent, Jesus, all people-groups could be blessed (Genesis 12:3). The rite of circumcision which marked out the descendants of Abraham offered no salvation; and a background culture of barbaric tribal practices could not prevent salvation of anybody who put their trust in Jesus.
Paul needed to remind Jews and Gentiles that they were equal in God's sight; so were the educated, uneducated, male, female, free citizens and slaves. It is wrong for any believer to assume a greater spiritual status than any other Christian. We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28), because we are all part of the same body of Christ, and the same Lord Jesus Christ lives in every believer equally.
Worldly ideas about religion want to make some people greater than others based on their race, colour, gender or education. Not so with Jesus. Everybody who puts their trust in Jesus is equally loved, forgiven and accepted. Although our roles in His kingdom are different, for which we are given different gifts, we are all nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5). In Him we have everything we need (Romans 8:32). So how are we going to react to this teaching? It should be simple, but we may have to battle with our prejudices! The fact is that we must honour every believer equally without favouritism because Christ does (James 2:1-13)! Now we need to do it, starting with those we have despised!
© Dr Paul Adams