New Way Of Identifying
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Galatians 3:28
Paul takes the radical work of Jesus Christ and applies it directly to the basic structures of society. “Neither Jew or Gentile” means that Jesus put an end to racial stereotyping and the dominant narrative of racial superiority. “Neither slave nor free” means that Jesus put an end to the way we value people based on their net worth and their job titles. Instead, Paul says that we are “in” Christ Jesus - that’s our new, primary identity. As Jesus said in Luke 20, we are “Children of God.” This is now the primary way we relate to one another.
And there’s a third social construction that Paul tackles as well: “nor is there male and female.” Note that he uses “and” here instead of the “or” of the previous two couplets. That’s because in the original Greek he’s citing Genesis 1 where God made us “male and female.” Paul is saying that our original design is not God’s ultimate purpose, that God has something better in store for us than defining ourselves by our gender or sexuality. Think of all the power that sexuality has in our culture - the power to dominate (as in sexual assault), the power to motivate (as in all the marketing that uses sex to sell things), and the power to create families (as in, making babies!). Jesus has upended this whole system and redefined how we relate to one another.
The next couple of days we’ll look at what is constructed in it’s place, but the Bible does a lot to destabilize the sorts of cultural systems we use to create the pecking order of who is important and how we get our self worth. Take a moment and look over those three categories - race, economics, and sexuality - and ask Jesus to reorient you towards seeing yourself and others the way he does.