Christians have often hoped for a time when our racial and economic differences would cease, when in Christ we would all be indistinguishable. Such impulses are earnest but fundamentally misguided.
Many such interpretations emerge from a fervent hope that the specters of racism, sexism and myriad other destructive “isms” would no longer bind us to cycles of violence and hate. Many such interpretations emerge from a misreading of texts like Galatians 3:28. Such readings imagine that becoming Christians means becoming all the same in all ways. There are no ethnic differences between us (“no longer Jew or Greek”), no differences of class and status between us (“no longer slave or free”), no gendered differences between us (“no longer male and female”).
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Galatians teaches that “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26). Our adoption as children of God, however, does not erase our differences. We are not the same, but we are reminded that our differences are not ways to measure our value in the eyes of God and one another.
How Pentecost Helps Us Think Differently About Difference
The story of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-21 helps us understand how God sees human diversity: one of God’s greatest gifts to the world. At Pentecost, God through the Spirit does not erase our differences but embraces the fact that God has made us all so wonderfully different.
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