This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news
EU Commissioner for human rights criticises racism in Greece
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,* heirs according to the promise.
This short passage contains the heart of Paul’s view of the “assembly of Jesus Messiah”. The old religion, which has just been a way of controllling human sin, has been superseded by the gift of trust (faith) in God, through Messiah Jesus. Religion is no longer needed because by being united with the son of God all become God’s children, a community of people whom God trusts. At the same time this new status abolishes all other distinctions of status that existed in Paul’s society: religious distinction betweern Jew and Gentile, social distinction between slave and free person, and sexual distinction between male and female. In the new family of God’s children, these counted for nothing in the face of the common life its members share with each other and with Messiah Jesus. This is revolutionary in two respects:
1 its abolition of the Law, that is, of religious ceremony, priesthood, of holy places and practices;
2. its abolition, within the Christian assembly, of all hierarchy in favour of distinctions which celebrated a person’s function within the “body of Messiah”.
The Christian assembly did not teach a way of finding God but a way of celebrating the fatherly God who had found his children and was teaching them how to live as brothers and sisters together.
It’s easy to undertsand how the officials of an Empire built on hierarchy began quite soon to take a critical interest in the communities of Jesus Messiah.
This revolutionary vision remains challenging to Christian assemblies today. Some have reverted to religion and its trappings; others have forgotten the equality of the Christian family. Learning how to be a child of God remains a wonderful vocation for every man and woman; while learning how to be a gathering of equals under God is a wonderful vocation for every community. The American ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas has written, “The Church does not have a social message; it is a social message, or it is nothing.”