Some thoughts from my quiet time this morning in the book of Galatians, chapter 3. Paul says in verse 27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Taken by itself this verse seems a little ambiguous, could be interpreted all kinds of ways. But put in context with the verse before it and the verse after it, the meaning becomes a little clearer. Verse 26 says, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” And verse 28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul is making the case that when a person is baptized into Christ, that person “puts on” Jesus and in doing so, “puts off” every other identity that person once held. We do not lose our distinction, but we do gain a new identity that is to supersede all others. So what? So many people have been baptized into Christ yet they choose to retain as their primary identity something other than Christ. They are white before they are Christian. They are black before they are Christian. They are Latino, Asian, Greek before they are Christian. They are straight before they are Christian. They are gay before they are Christian. They are conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, wealthy, poor, educated, or not educated before they are Christian. And dare I say it, they are American before they are Christian. What’s wrong with clinging to these identities? Is it bad to be American or any of the others? Perhaps some, but I’ll leave the political debate out of this. But when these identities come to be our primary identity over against our identity in Jesus that is a huge problem. When we defend our human identity at the expense of our heavenly identity, this is a smack in Jesus’ face. It usually expresses itself in subtle ways, but not always. Ever ignore the bond you have with a fellow Christian because that person was a different color? Different political viewpoints? Different socio-economic class? Different ethnicity? Oh, here’s a good one: different denomination? Sunday mornings in the U.S. reveal just how prevalent this problem really is in the Church. Worship styles aside, this is the most divided and segregated time in the week! At a time when our primary (in Christ) identity ought to be expressed the most, we flock to our huddle of folks whose identities are more like our human ones than heavenly one. I wonder what we sacrifice in terms of joy, fulfillment, witness to the world, and enjoyment of the Father when we elevate our human identity and reduce our heavenly one. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are in Christ you have put on Christ as your primary identity. You may be white but you are a Christian first. You may be black but you are a Christian first. You may be rich or poor, liberal or conservative, but you are a Christian first. Everything else is to take a back seat to that; everything else is to submit to that. When the values of our human, secondary identity conflict with the values of our primary identity in Christ, it is the latter that are to hold sway in our life. When that is not the case, we reduce the work of Jesus, the new life of forgiveness that we have in Him and that we share with everyone who has been baptized into Christ, to a position lower than our political, racial or whatever identity we give preference to. This should not be. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Today, choose to walk in your primary identity and “put on” Christ; make every other identity submit to that.
Put on Christ
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