There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.28 NIV
“According to Galatians 3.28, race is not the problem because our identity is in Christ now,” proclaims a white pastor.
My friend visited this church. This is what he noticed. The church is packed full of white folks. Now, I’m not saying that isn’t a good thing, but with the change in our society, we ought to ask why our Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. When we read and study Paul’s mission and Jesus’ Great Commission, we see the clear command to make all people disciples of Jesus. “All” means all, not white, not blacks, not brown, not yellow and not red.
When quoting Galatians 3.28 in this colorblind perspective, we must equally say that gender inequality is not the problem or that social status is no longer a problem. But gender inequality and social inequality ARE problems! In fact, slavery was alive and well when Paul wrote those words and had continued to be so for many centuries after, even in the US today (where human trafficking and sexual slavery still concerns us). The logic simply doesn’t hold water. Paul’s message doesn’t deny the problems of race, gender and social class. Rather, the church ought to consider such issues within its own mission in how to adapt and help these problems to go away (e.g. Paul did it with not forcing gentiles to circumcise or follow food laws). In fact, the church should be much more sensitive towards race, gender and social class than society so that there’s true equality within its community life. This requires a brand new way of doing ministry that considers all these factors. What would be the consequence of misreading Galatians 3.28?
The consequence of misreading results in the very opposite of Paul envisioned for the church. Ironically, the same pastor who proclaimed this misreading is in a predominately white church with very few Asians and two blacks. Of course, race is not a problem because there’s hardly any minority there to CREATE that problem. Yet, race IS a problem because the practically lily-white demographic of his church hardly reflects the changes in his neighborhood. I don’t want to blame the entire problem on the pastor, but surely, he has to shoulder part of the blame when he preaches this sort of misreading of Paul. So, let’s be careful when we say that our faith has negated real world problem because that negation is often a mere denial. The louder we deny, the greater is the problem. WE may be the problem.