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United by the Gospel

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Any form of prejudice is expressly prohibited by scripture, as Christians, we should always strive to accept people regardless of their ethnicity, social background, or biological gender.

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In his book, “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” Thom Rainer write that in a study of fourteen churches that he was a consultant for that eventually closed their doors, he noticed some very stark realities that each of the churches shared. While every church is different, all the churches that close their doors year after year share many of the same qualities. One of those qualities is the church stopped looking like the community it was in. What do I mean by that? I mean that churches that close their doors year after year become less and less diverse in their culture. One of the other reasons stated by Dr. Rainer, was the churches budgets moved inwardly. They had an internal focus. They worry about not having enough for that proverbial rainy day, and start to hold on to what they have financially. Basically they stop worrying about people outside the church and start worrying about things that make the members comfortable. You may even hear things like, “well Bob is a charter member of this church and he should get certain perks.”
This is what happens when a church becomes a fortress, and stops reaching out to its community and stops embracing cultural diversity. Communities change, and sometimes drastically. We start seeing that we have nothing in common with the people in our neighborhoods, and yet the community culture changes and keeps changing, so we become more closed off.
When we think of prejudices, we tend to default to a discussion on race, but prejudices take many forms. Maybe some of you look at the marginalized of society as less desirable because they don't have a good paying job, or perhaps you may look at the homeless and criticize them because they could make their life better but they choose to stay in that life.
There is a truth of scripture that we must quickly come to terms with. Diversity of the body. There is a vast generational gap in this body that sits here today. There is a mentality from some that sit here that thinks the unreached of the community aren't like us. We see them as different, and we aren't as welcoming to them when they walk through the doors. Personally we don’t see it that way, but the question remains, “when was the last time you welcomed a guest into the church instead of ignoring them?” and what was the reasoning in your mind for not welcoming them into the church?
Perhaps, when a visitor comes into the church and they don't look or act like you think they should, you shy away from them. Maybe you don't associate with non-Christians because you don't associate with people like that, because the Bible clearly says you should “abstain from all appearances of evil.” Perhaps you may silently criticize people because they may show up to church in shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops.
In our text this morning, we are going to learn some vital truths for embracing diversity in the body of Christ and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we place our faith in Jesus, we are all adopted into God’s family as children and heirs to His promise of eternal life without regard to ethnicity, social status, or gender.
In our text this morning, this issue is specifically addressed. It is the issue of cultural separation, and we will see that when we place our faith in Jesus, we adopted into God’s family as children and heirs to His promise of eternal life without regard to ethnicity, social status, or gender.
Galatians 3:26–4:11 ESV
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

As Christians, we are united under the gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the unifying principle in the church. It breaks down all boundaries among believers. It is what gives us a new mindset through Jesus Christ. Paul writes in verse 26 that we are all sons of God through faith. It is our faith in the saving grace of God that brings us into God’s adopted family.
Ephesians 2:19 ESV
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
eph 2.
In verse 27, Paul makes statement regarding all believers in Jesus. He says that “as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Our baptism is symbolic of dying to the old life and being resurrected to a new life in Christ. It carries the implication that we are publicly identifying ourselves with Jesus. When we are baptized we “put on Christ.” The word for “put on” literally means a change of garments, and that is what Paul will explain in the first nine verses of chapter 4. When we become part of Jesus, we are no longer under the guardianship of rules and regulations, if you will. It is a worldly thought process and mentality that binds us to a particular set of expectations, but it is when we “put on Christ,” we “change our garments” that we go from being under a pedagogue and reminded of our sin, that we become grown children God and rightful heirs of the promise of eternal life.

When we put on Christ, we have a change of mindset

Putting on Christ is more than just adhering to a set standard. It is about a mindset change. When we come to know Jesus, our worldview changes, it is that mindset change through Jesus that we can set aside all racial, cultural, or social boundaries.
In verse 28, Paul says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is important to understand because it is only when we start to accept others for their differences that we can achieve true unity of the body.
We must realize that if God accepts all people into His family through faith in Jesus christ, that we should do the same as well. If we adopt the mindest of Jesus, then we can truly come to that realization of how we should treat others.

Our love for God is manifest in love toward others

Luke 6:31 ESV
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
We often call this the “Golden Rule.” With this statement, Jesus is calling us to treat others in the same exact manner that we desire for them to treat us. If you treat others with contempt, those very same people will treat you with contempt.

Love for others includes compassion

Matthew 9:36 ESV
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus looked over the massive crowds that followed Him, and he was moved deep in His soul. All he could see was a crowd that was wandering around lost with no direction or hope in life.

Love for others includes acceptance of people for what they are

Matthew 11:19 ESV
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
Matthew 9:10–13 ESV
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus was looked down upon by the pharisees for being a friend of sinners. He sought out those that needed hope. To contrast this, the Pharisees would often pray to God thanking Him that they were not Gentile, or a slave, or a woman. Jesus, on the other hand, sought out those that were in dire need of His message. He spoke to a Samaritan woman at a well. Not only did he associate with what the Jews considered filthy half-breeds, but she was a woman. On the day of His resurrection, He appeared first to women, who by Jewish cultural standards were not even considered to have a valid testimony in court, and in John chapter 13, He washed His disciples’ feet which was something that was only considered to be done by non-Jewish house slaves.
Too many times, we have rejected non-Christians because they don’t look or act like we do or think they should. We often expect them to change before they become a believer, when in reality, we should not worry about the life they lead prior to coming into a relationship with Jesus. Jesus set that example when He called His disciples. He didn’t tell them that had to change he simply said, “Follow me.” He wanted them to come and see for themselves what He was doing.

God does not show partiality, we should be just as impartial

In chapter two of Galatians, Paul makes a statement about “those that seemed influential.” He said, “what they were makes no difference to me, God shows no partiality” (2.6). God doe not discriminate when it comes to salvation. It is available to all who come to Him in faith, and so while we are here on this earth, we are held to the same standard of impartiality.
James 2:1–5 ESV
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
James 2.1-

Every believer has the same promise in Jesus

If we truly belong to Jesus and have given our lives completely to Him, we are all promised to have eternal life, and it is in that promise that we become heirs to the promise of Abraham. The promise that God was going to make a great nation through the offspring of Abraham which is Jesus.
Jesus came that we might obtain the promises of God in their fullness. Paul says in chapter 4 verses 4 and 5, that “in the fullness of time, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may receive adoption as sons.” Jesus came into this world as a human being born under the law to perfectly fulfill the law, so that we may receive the same inheritance as He has by being adopted into God’s family as children.
Romans 8:17 ESV
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The adoption is a permanent response to our faith. Regardless of our precious status, once we are adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, the adoption is sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The word used for “Abba” in verse 6 gives us the idea of a very intimate fellowship with God. We are no longer strangers to God, we are as Paul says in verse 9, “known by God.” It is through Jesus that we are no longer separated from God, and it is through that close fellowship that all bounds of ethnicity, social status, or even gender disappear.
Does our church truly look like our community?
Do we share the same diversity as our community?
Most of us here may not be racist, but what about generational prejudices? When was the last time you reached out to someone of a younger generation? When was the last time you looked to someone from an older generation for their wisdom? A pastor I spoke with a few months back said this about younger generations: “The younger generations expect diversity. When they visit a church, they look for three W’s: White faces, While collars, and White hair.” Now, your initial response may be, “well, it’s the white hairs that are keeping this church alive.” The truth is, is that really happening? How much life and vibrance do you have left in you? Have you thought about passing the baton to the up and coming generations, or do you have so little faith in them that you’re not willing to cut loose of control in order to allow them to do what they need to do to serve God?
Prejudice in any form is scripturally a sin. God doesn’t differentiate between people. All are sinners regardless of their status in life. Fortunately God doesn’t differentiate in salvation either. The invitation is available to all people that accept the grace God has offered by placing their faith in Jesus.
Many of you could care less about numbers, but this is important. Ethnically, the Flour Bluff community is about 50% Anglo and 30% Hispanic. We are already at a disadvantage there, but there’s much more to look at.
Insert generation chart.
In our community
What are some ways you have prejudged others?
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