When we are joined to Christ, we are joined to one another. So we have absolutely no grounds, no basis, for any hatred toward others or feelings of superiority. All those feelings and attitudes are obliterated by our Redeemer. His Gospel completely opposes any use of human criteria to exclude others or reduce them to second class citizens. We dare not avoid others or belittle others on the basis of external and human distinctions that don’t matter to God—race, sex, class, education, geography, zip code, politics, culture, language, or economics.
We all, everyone of us, belong to each other.
Markus Barth writes:
“Justification in Christ is not an individual miracle happening to this person or that person, which each new person may seek or possess for himself. Rather, justification by grace is a joining together of this and that person, of the near and the far, of the good and the bad, of the high and the low, liberal and fundamentalist. Salvation is a social event. No one is joined to Christ except together with a neighbor.”
Any person who shuts others out on the basis of human differences is not of God. To apply these differences in excluding people from salvation or labeling them as unworthy until they change their condition is to deny that God is impartial. That attitude denies that we are justified by faith alone and that Christ’s death and resurrection atones for our sins. This sort of outlook insists that God loves us because of who we are, not in spite of who we are.
As we gear up for our annual Give Away Day here at Legacy and as we crank up our Spanish-speaking ministry, let us remember the Gospel as our Savior taught it and lived it. Shame on us if we tell anyone they have to act just like us, they have to think and talk and believe just like us. Shame on us if we force them to dress like us, pray like us, or worship like us. Shame on us if we obligate them to anything or anyone other than our heavenly Father, his resurrected Son, and his Holy Spirit.
Jesus treated the sinners, Samaritans, and Roman centurions the same as he treated the so-called righteous Jews. In fact, he treated the ones who were “different” or “outsiders” with more grace and love and mercy than he did the ones who “belonged.”
And so must we.