The Last Shall Be First…

Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the “Good News” of the Kingdom of God and how to some folks it feels better than to others. At our Mile High Ministries staff meeting yesterday we looked at Galatians 3:26-29. We focused on the promise that was given to us, that if we are in Christ we are heirs to the promise given to Abraham. The part of that passage that really stuck out to me though, was verse 28.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. The boundaries which are broken down in this passage are substantial. Among Jews, the Greeks were definitely considered a separate people group. The thought of the two being one would have been incredibly offensive to faithful Jews during this point in history. The breaking down of these boundaries would have definitely excited some of the people involved. But, when I look at this list I see the possibility of some offended parties who would not see this as “Good News”.

Slaves would have definitely been seen as less important than free men. Women did not hold positions of power over men. And faithful Jews would have been thankful that they were a descendant of Abraham and not a Greek. I see many people who stand to lose a great deal of status in this Kingdom.  The dividing lines that set them above the other, less important, people around them were being stripped away and they were painfully becoming one with people who were seen as lesser in their society. I wonder how difficult it would have been for these people to consider this “Good News”.

I also wonder how much any of us have accepted this part of being ‘In Christ’. Are there still people that we would rather not consider ourselves to be ‘one’ with? Maybe a modern reading of the passage from Galatians would say; there is neither CEO nor Janitor, there is neither homeless man nor financially wise business man, there is neither successful nor un-successful; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Seems like pretty good news for the Janitor, homeless man and un-successful person, but what about the CEO, financially wise business man and successful person?

Do our lives reflect that in Christ we are not separated by these statuses or do we cling to those statuses as the very thing that gives us value? I confess that I often find myself in the game of looking for a status to define who (or at least how successful) I am. This Lenten Season is bringing with it great opportunity for reflection into the mysterious and sometimes depressing motives that drive me. In the spirit of Lent, I pray that I experience growth and a sort of resurrection out of these vein ambitions that sometimes lead me to points of intense selfishness. With every passing day I realize that I am a painting that is far from done. God continues to work out the imperfections as I try to simply embrace Him as well as the true me that becomes more visible with each stroke of the brush.

2 thoughts on “The Last Shall Be First…

  1. I really appreciate these thoughts, Ben. It calls us all (me very much included!!!) to the sobering, counter-cultural, yet BEAUTIFUL realities of the gospel.
    After a few years working very deliberately with the poor, it barely feels like I’ve come any closer.

    • Thanks Ryan. I know how you feel. Still, it’s pretty amazing how much those baby steps can change our entire reality. I know there are several folks who would join me in saying that you have inspired and challenged me to a deeper understanding of those Gospel realities.

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