“Sure, you can have eternal life in Jesus and join our church if… you vote like I do.”
Hopefully, you think this is a ridiculous statement. Jesus is too big to be restricted by our divisive two-party system, or any other worldly structure.
Speaking of division, that’s what was happening between the Jews and the Gentiles when Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians. Some religious leaders were requiring people to adopt Jewish culture before they could join the Christian faith. Adding our own cultural demands on top of a commitment to Jesus is a sure-fire way to turn people away from the Gospel. When we say, “you can join us if…”, we are suggesting that God would say the same. And even if we would never say the if clause aloud, we often find unspoken ways to suggest that faith is conditional on being, acting, or even voting a certain way. We subconsciously live out the slogan in George Orwell’s allegorical novella Animal Farm, that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
In Galatians, Paul proclaims that while some were called by God to preach to the Jews, he has been called to preach to the Gentiles, and one is not above the other. All can be recipients of the good news, and all can exhibit the fruits of a relationship with Christ in their lives, no matter their culture, political party, socioeconomic status, or any other category that labels us. That’s one of the most miraculously powerful aspects of the Gospel. It is truly for all people from every walk of life—though we shouldn’t be surprised at this. Nothing is as wide and abundant as the love of Christ.
Who do you consider, even subconsciously, to be lesser Christians than you are? How might it change our lives, churches, and communities if we stopped believing that things have to be done our way to be the best?
God of all, when we feel the pull towards divisiveness and exclusion based on cultural standards, may we always hear your call to inclusion and love. Amen.