Galatians 3:26-29 “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”
This passage is a powerful statement of our unity in God and in Christ Jesus. If we are seeing with the eyes of our faith, we see a wonderful unity in the whole human family. We do not see differences as things that divide us; we see those differences as sources of enrichment to all of us. At this point in our history as a nation, Americans are struggling with this issue. On the surface of our national culture, many of us are divided. We look at each other in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and economic status. We are divided into the whites and the non-whites, the Europeans and the foreigners, the Christians and the non-Christians. Our response to these differences has prompted hate and intolerance in some people. We are not like “them.” We are “better than them.” We have a rightful place here; “they” do not. We want to associate with people who are like us, who share our culture. This way of thinking has contributed to violence such as we experienced at Charlottesville, Virginia, a week ago. It has been the cause of a rise of the number of “hate groups” across our nation. There are those who call for the elimination of “them” or those who are different from “us.” We do not want to live with them, we do not want our children to associate with their children. We do not want our sons and daughters marrying them, etc. Some of this comes from the belief that we are better than others, that our rights are being taken away by others, that we are threatened by those who are not like us. Into all this rhetoric of hate and this willingness on the part of some people to engage in violence and even death, the voice of God says, “Stop. You are all my children. I love every one of you and if you say you love me, then you need to take care of each other and help each other and respect each other. Your world cannot survive on hatred and judgment. It will only survive and thrive when you start looking at each other as I look at you, and as my Son looks at you. He died for every person, not just those who are like you. He taught you to love one another. Do not follow those who say something different. Those who speak with hate will pull everyone down. It will only result in suffering and dying. You must learn to forgive and move forward together. I will always be with you to help you do that.”
We are all created in the image and likeness of God, no matter where we come from, what language we speak, how we worship God, how much money we make, or who we love. That divine stamp upon our spirits is the same for all of us. It is God’s claim upon us and our birthright. It is the key to how we look at each other and how we treat each other. If we fail to look at this common identity as children of God, we are taken on the path of indifference to the fate of others, apathy in the face of human misery, hatred of those who are different from us or who do not agree with our ways of thinking. That path leads to enmity, sorrow, suffering, isolation, blaming, injury and death. It can never be the path of God, no matter how much we say we love God and seek to do God’s will. History has shown that whenever a group of people sees itself as privileged and whenever others are seen as the enemy or inferior, there is only the way of death. We are created for life, and for that life to come about and to grow, we must follow the path that God has set for us. It is the path of kindness, goodness to others, forgiveness and mercy, active love, and the refusal to judge others according to superficial criteria. It is the path of love, not hate. It is the path of acceptance, not rejection. It is the path of unity, not isolation. It is the path of life.
Written by Gene Ulses