We Are All One In Christ






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“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)



“There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) 

We all are made in God’s image and so we are all the same. There is no distinction between different peoples as we are all one in Christ Jesus. There is only one human race.



These biblical quotes are used to argue not just that all peoples of the earth are the same but that no distinction should be made between them in any circumstances. They are used these days to argue for ‘diversity’ in our institutions and against any forms of ethnic identity by people of European origin, though rarely against other peoples. But is this actually what these quotations are saying?



Clearly, we do not look like God. We do not even know what God looks like and apart from the incarnate Christ he does not have a material human body. Therefore, Genesis cannot be interpreted literally. It is not saying that we all look alike deep down because we all bear the image or the likeness of God. It is referring to something more spiritual about human nature in general.



Some argue that it is referring to the special properties that God bestows on humans that make us different to other created beings, such as rationality and morality. Others argue that it refers to our relationship with God and each other or that it is the way humans act on God’s behalf to improve the created world. We are all God’s children and we all possess the light of God, the Holy Spirit, within us. It is the Spirit that animates us and draws us closer to God. In this sense, we are all made in the image of God.



But this does not mean that there are not mundane or worldly differences between us or that these differences may be significant. God created a great diversity of people and other creatures. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we are designed to live in different climatic regions and we are profoundly shaped by those regions. God may have set a universal template, but the detail is one of distinction and diversity.



Paul’s reference to there being neither Jew nor Greek does not mean there are no distinctions between different peoples either or that we should not acknowledge, maintain and celebrate these distinctions. There are clearly still Jews and Greeks, indeed far more distinct in many ways than in Paul’s day. There are still men and women, despite the attempts of some to argue otherwise. Happily, there are fewer slaves than there used to be, although they still exist, sometimes right in our midst out of sight as we focus on a slave trade that was outlawed nearly 200 years ago.



Again, these words should not be taken literally. They mean that Christ is everyone’s saviour irrespective of who they are. In fact, Christ did not originally come for everybody. He was rather partisan, clearly stating that he came only for the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ It was through the teachings of Paul that he came to be seen as the saviour of the whole of humanity and it is this little known fact that I believe holds the key to what Paul was saying with these quotes. Christ came to save all people, not just the Jews. Other apostles, such as Peter, profoundly disagreed with him, at least initially. I would personally, take this argument a step further and interpret the ‘Jew and Greek’ reference as saying that Christ came not just for all people who happen to be Christians, but for all people irrespective of their religion, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Pagan or Buddhist. They may not call him Christ or recognize him as Jesus, but we are all one in the Christ spirit.   



Jesus Christ is the fullest and most complete example of a human in God's image. Hebrews 1 refers to him as "the very image of his substance" and Colossians reveals Jesus as ‘the image of the invisible God’. So whatever ethnic group, religion or gender we belong to our spiritual goal is to become more like Christ because in doing that we become closer to the image of God. But this is a spiritual aspiration and should not be used to undermine people’s distinct identity and culture or their desire to maintain these.