A colleague and I were chatting a while back about earnest yet annoying Christians who are so involved in an organization or cause that everything about their faith is coloured (or contaminated, I suppose) by what that organization or cause stands for. Between the two of us, we have detected this with anti-evolutionists, anti-abortionists, pre- and post-millennialists, and people overzealous for their particular denomination. So much of their faith runs through the filter of their cause that they equate saving faith with their cause and they begin alienating themselves from other (read: different) followers of Jesus. In fact, I was once in a conversation that turned a little ugly when a person stated that unless you believe that the earth is x years old, you aren’t really saved but are destined for hell.
And I always thought that what mattered first is whether you are in Christ.
I am convinced that we’ll one day be pretty surprised who’s all part of the new heaven and the new earth. After all, that Jesus says there’s a place for a sinner like me ought to give hope to a lot of varied people!
The apostle Paul really blows the doors off who are all qualified to be children of God. He writes: “…All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In a culture where it was most undesirable to be a Gentile, a slave, and/or a woman, Paul’s words must have been dynamite, blasting away barriers between people called to be united in Christ. As soon as you say, Yes, but you really ought to be… to one of these descriptors (e.g. Jew, free, and/or male), you attach conditions to God’s grace that God Himself never attaches.
I wonder who Paul might all add to his list if he wrote it today. Maybe he would have said, In Christ there is…
—:: neither clergy nor layperson;
—:: neither old nor young;
—:: neither foreigner nor local;
—:: neither bi, gay, nor straight;
—:: neither poor nor rich;
—:: neither farmer nor urbanite;
—:: neither pacifist nor soldier;
—:: neither divorced, married, single, nor widowed;
—:: neither high school dropout nor PhD candidate;
—:: neither Bloc Québécois, CHP, Conservative, Liberal, nor NDP;
—:: neither blue collar nor white collar;
—:: neither computer geek nor typewriter user;
—:: neither creationist nor evolutionist;
—:: neither Planned Parenthood staff nor Pro-Life advocate;
—:: neither premillennialist nor postmillennialist;
—:: neither Christian Reformed nor <insert your denomination/federation/affiliation (or lack thereof) here>.
With whom are you (perhaps surprisingly) in Christ?
Picture: Modified from imgs.xkcd.com/blag/meetup/protester.jpg (found via a Google search for “protester”). Anybody know this person??
…And then there’s that joke about denominations in heaven…