By Monica Paterson
Who are you? On what do you base your identity? “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith…and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (3:26-29). This is the point of the letter to the Galatians. Written to a church confused about their identity in Christ, this was good news indeed.
In order to remind the church in Galatia about their identity as children of God, Paul emphasizes the equality of all believers. The body of Christ is made up of believers from all tribes and tongues yet they are all one in Christ, regardless of their race, gender, or financial status (3:26-29). Whether in the ancient world or our modern world, there will always be people who regard themselves as superior to others. Jews saw themselves as more important than Gentiles because they thought that they alone were God’s covenant people. Free men looked down on slaves, and men perceived themselves as more superior to women. Fast forward a few centuries and you find slavery, “apartheid”, and the continued oppression of women in many cultures. But instead of elevating one group of people over another, Jesus taught the astonishing truth that all believers are equal and unity can only be found in Him (Eph 2:14-18). This is because all human beings are equally enslaved to sin, and all who trust in him receive his grace.
Paul further clarifies their identity by using the analogy of a child who had to wait for his inheritance until a date set by his father. This was to illustrate the sovereign act of God in calling his children to himself. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoptions as sons” (4:5). Jesus came at a preordained time, set by the Father before the foundation of the world. He was sent to redeem those who were in slavery, so that they would be adopted into his Father’s household. Through adoption they received an inheritance, the Holy Spirit, who enables believers to cry out, “Abba, Father.” Believers receive adoption not because of any act or merit, but purely through a sovereign act of God.
So, I ask my sister: “Who are you?” Do you see yourself foremost as a wife, a mother, a single or working woman? If you have repented and believed the gospel, then you are first and foremost a daughter of God. It does not matter where you come from or what you look like, for the gospel gives unity through diversity. The only way to love one another as sisters (despite our differences) is to see one another as equally deserving of judgment, yet equally saved in Christ. Your identity as God’s daughter means that you are free to embrace your role in the church, the family, and society in such a way as to bring God glory without letting that role define who you are. The only solution to problems regarding race, class and gender has always been the gospel.
Monica Paterson is the wife of Keith and mom of 3 busy boys, artist and somewhat reluctant writer yet a lover of God’s Word. Born and raised in South Africa, she has traveled to many parts of the world since then and the strangest job she ever had was to wash Halloween pumpkins in England for a weekend. She currently resides in the Middle East. Her great joy is teaching ladies how to study the Bible and watch their love for God deepen.
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