Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Galatians 3:1-9 (NRSV)
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
Being in the middle of a very heated presidential race in the U.S. this year has been eye-opening and disturbing. There have been claims on all sides that the candidates—and their supporters—can’t be Christians if they believe “that way,” for whichever topic the speaker is against.
Under the category of “there is nothing new under the Sun,” The Galatians were using the same argument. “If you don’t believe like us then you are not really a Christian.” The Jewish converts were saying the Gentile converts had to become Jewish or they couldn’t be Christians. And Paul said, “Hold on! It isn’t Jewish Law that saved you, and it won’t save them.”
We, as contemporary Christians, should be just as incensed as Paul was that Christians were using their belief as a weapon against fellow believers. There is only one thing that makes a Christian and that is believing in Christ Jesus as your Savior.
I am so proud of us, as Cumberland Presbyterians, for understanding that there are different ways to be Christian. There are Cumberland Presbyterian Christians, Baptist Christians, Methodist Christians; traditional Christians, contemporary Christians; liberal Christians, conservative Christians, and fundamental Christians. We do not believe that someone has to Cumberland to be in a right relationship with God. They don’t have to look like us or think just like us to be a part of the Body of Christ.
Let us not forget that. Let us welcome all kinds of believers into our fellowship. Diversity is a strength—if we allow it to be. We can see God face-to-face in all facets of our society. Be the Christian that loves even those with whom you don’t agree. Don’t try to make new believers jump through unnecessary hoops to conform to your limited ideas of Christianity.
God blessed the New Testament church with diversity. We can help the Church to thrive, but it won’t happen by shutting people out because they are not like us. It will only happen by opening the doors wide and inviting all kinds of people in. Who will you invite today?
Lord of all, show us how to love those who are not like us. Help us to recognize all that we have in common. Open our hearts to welcome the stranger into our circle of friends and into our fellowship. Amen.
Go with God.