May we be one as God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One.
Galatians 3:23-4:31 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
4 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
12 I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. 18 But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— 20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For
it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the
promise. 24This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now
this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. 27 For
it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate
Than of the one who has a husband.”
28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
In today’s text Paul says: You are all sons of God through faith 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 man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Paul is making his case for faith in Christ verses dependance on the law. What I could not help but to continue to think about though is what he says regarding our unity with and in Christ. He says: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female. His argument is for the equality of all people in Christ; that there is no difference based on national origin; that as Jesus says in John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus sacrifice on the cross was and is for everyone who will believe regardless of national origin, race, ethnicity or social standing. What causes me to ponder about Paul’s words though is that he says in Christ there is no male or female. Yet throughout Paul’s writings he speaks frequently about the women’s place in the church; that they should not be leaders or teachers. In Matthew 22:29-30 Jesus says: “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. So heaven should be the model for things on earth. Surely though, Jesus is not suggesting that on earth we should not marry. To be fruitful and multiply was the first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. My question is were Paul’s instructions regarding the place and the roles of women in the church really a reflection of God’s will or was it more a reflection of the culture of the time? Let me be clear, I am not suggesting or attempting to challenge or establish doctrine. I’ll leave that to the scholars and to those who are most concerned with church doctrine. Jesus Himself did not speak very much about the church; He spoke mostly of the kingdom. Jesus did of course say that He did not come to do away with the law, but rather to fulfill it; so we could look to the law and discern how Jesus fulfilled the law to better understand what women’s roles should be.
God did create male and female and both are necessary for this natural realm. Just as in a healthy marriage both the man and the woman are equally important, I believe that for the church to be healthy, it needs to have both men and women operating in their gifts and callings. Individual churches and denominations may establish differing guidelines regarding roles, but to fully reflect God requires both male and female. Perhaps the reason God made both male and female is that neither one, in these imperfect human bodies can fully reflect His image and likeness. God Himself has all the good and necessary qualities of both male and female. When we get to heaven and are finally and fully perfected in Christ, we will no longer need to see the differences. We will be fully restored to His image and likeness. For now, we should celebrate and embrace what God has established. We should rejoice that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female. Yet in this world, for us to fully reflect God’s goodness; to carry out His will and His plans we need each other. For us to be all that God intended, we must walk fully in the way He created us.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may we truly seek to be one as You are One. May we not concern ourselves with position but rather may we all together be a reflection of You in and to the world. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.