In Galatians 3:28 (NIV), Paul made a statement that must have been astounding to his audience at the time (and now, for that matter): “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Think about it! Paul was taking being all things to all people to another level. All people, regardless of how else they may be designated, are one in Christ. This proclamation caused consternation among some, but think of how it must have resounded with Gentiles, slaves, females!
Paul was a Jew, a Pharisee. Coming from such a strict religious background, he undoubtedly had personal and cultural religious preferences–circumcision, for example. In reaching out to Gentiles, though, he spent much of Galatians teaching that new life in Christ doesn’t require circumcision. In Galatians 6:15, he said finally: “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” Incredibly, Paul said to Jews and Gentiles that circumcision wasn’t worth fighting about.
In Romans 14:1-4, Paul wrote another remarkable piece of scripture that underscores his determination to be all things to all people. Rather than summarizing it, we need to hear it just like it was written:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”
Let’s take a breath, and return tomorrow.