6 JUNE 2010
TRINITY 1 PROPER 5
All are one in Christ
Conflict in the Anglican Communion distresses many. People want unity and peace which comes when there is agreement. Why can’t we tolerate differences they ask? Yet truth matters.
Paul was not afraid of
violent disagreement when necessary to
uphold the truth as we see in his letter to the Galatians, part of which we
heard this morning.
During his first missionary
journey, Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in the towns of central
If they wished to receive
the blessings promised to Abraham and his descendents they must become Jews.
They must accept all the requirements of the Law given by God to Moses and
especially the requirement that all males must be circumcised.
These missionaries claimed
the authority of the apostles and elders in
Paul was shocked.
In his letter he exclaims ‘O foolish Galatians!
Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?’.
In the first sentence of his letter to them he claims to be an apostle,
not by mere human authority but ‘through Jesus Christ and God the Father who
raised him from the dead.’ He’s clear
that his mission wasn’t given to him by the leaders in
Although Paul insists that
his mission to the nations was God-given, he needed to show that it was
recognised and approved by the first Christians in
If we read on into chapter
2, Paul tells us that he made another visit to
At the same time, Peter’s
mission to Jews was also approved. This
meant that Jews who became Christians
might continue to observe Jewish laws and customs but non Jews were not required
to do this.
What was vital for Paul was the gospel that justification was available to all solely through the salvation won for us by Jesus Christ. So he can say to the Galatians and to us who have been baptised ‘You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as were baptised 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’.
Crispin Harrison CR