This week we will be reading through Galatians 3:15-30. The great theme of this chapter is the source of the Galatian’s (and our) identity. This section ends with Paul’s radical conclusion that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Jesus. v.28. This radical inclusiveness is one of the great reoccurring themes in Paul’s letters. See, 1 Cor. 1:10, 12:13, Eph. 4, Col. 3:11.
For me, this is one of the most difficult passages in all of the Scriptures. The difficulty first arises because it is sometimes difficult to determine from where we get our identities – the fish doesn’t know it’s wet, and we often don’t know how strong our non-Christian identities are. Additionally, it is very difficult to break down our identities because it requires death on our part. Paul’s audience received their identities from three places – racial/national/religious identity, socioeconomic identity, and sexual identity. For Paul, none of these other identities matters. The question for us is where do we receive our identities? Like Paul’s audience, our identities are often also based upon our race, nationality, political philosophy or party, our social class, and our sex. We all want to see our tribe do well, but Paul tells us that none of these other identities should matter particularly when each of these identities brings division within the body of Christ.
For the discussion this week, think about where you receive your identity. What is your tribe? What other types of people do you identify with as being like you? And think about how these identities of ours do or may bring division within the body of Christ. How do these other identities separate you from other Christians? Also, think through how we can overcome the divisions created by these alternative identities. (As I was writing this email, this Article from Vox came up which speaks about the difference between how Americans and French understand identity – the former focus on tolerance and the latter on assimilation. If you read the article, think about whether Paul is more in the American or French camp.)
Dinner is at 6. The menu is fried rice. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.
If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. . . . So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:26, 33