Monday, September 26, 2011


The Spirit of Christ is an equalizer not a divider.

When the Spirit of Christ is in control of a group of believers there will always be a deep and abiding equality among all. When there appears in a group of believers a sense of the “haves” and the “have nots”, equality in Christ is dying and the Spirit of Christ is not being followed.

In the book of Galatians the Apostle Paul confronts the Apostle Peter because of the issue of equality between Jewish and Gentile believers. It is hard to even imagine one of the apostles confronting another, but equality is that important.

Here is what happened that caused the confrontation.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:11-16

Some Jewish “haves” came and determined that some Gentile “have nots” were not up to their level. This new paradigm was so powerful that Peter and Barnabas were “carried away with their hypocrisy.”

If this kind of mistake can be made by Peter and Barnabas, who are we to think we cannot be drawn into this mistake? This is the kind of failure that can and will destroy the very essence of Christian life and community.

How can we avoid this mistake?

1. By focusing exclusively on Christ as Christianity. Jesus is Christianity. If a person has Christ they are as much a Christian as any other Christian. Treat them as such.

2. By seeing love as our reason for existence. We exist to love. We exist to give the best we are and the best we have to those who need us. Even if we see ourselves as a “have” in the midst of a lot of “have nots” that only increases our responsibility to love them more effectively not isolate them more effectively.

3. By resisting the temptation to confuse leadership positions as places of superiority instead of places of service. God gives leadership authority to those who can still wash feet. Leaders who cannot wash feet need to be confronted.

Listen to these remarkable words that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29

When equality in Christ begins to die in a group of believers, so does the spiritual power begin to die no matter how impressive the “haves” still appear to be in their special but separate gatherings. Unfortunately inequality draws huge crowds.

Bud McCord
Abide International

No comments: