In these familiar words from Galatians, we have the chance to listen in on an ancient dispute between the most renowned apostles of Jesus, Peter and Paul. The question presents itself over and over in scripture: Who is welcomed and who is excluded? Every generation of the church has faced this question, and Paul gives the ultimate answer in Galatians 3. All other tribes must fall away as we become one in Christ.
What do we assume about the people we encounter? When we walk into a new space with new people, do we truly see them with the eyes of Christ? Would we even know what that could look like? In this week’s scripture, the example of Phillip will teach us what is truly possible when we see others as Christ calls us to: people who are already beloved, already our brothers and sisters.
We ask Jesus to heal us of the brokenness of our world, but sometimes we create barriers that stop us short from experiencing God’s fullest healing. We see dimly, we miss the point of Christ’s teachings, we give up too quickly. What if we invested our time and energy into living out the transformation Jesus has already accomplished for us?
To live into the truth that we are already one in Christ requires daily decisions. Daily sacrifices that often go against what our culture teaches us result in a life of Christ-like relationships. The world tells us people are not worth our time and commitment, yet in the story of Ruth we find two women who choose each other against all odds, over and over again, and become the epitome of faithful, Christ-like friendship.
Even with shared ancestors, we can find ways to separate, to build walls and hide behind cultural differences. It is so tempting to move away instead of reaching out, and yet we miss out on the fullness of a life in Christ when we choose hatred over love. Our baptism vows ask us if we accept the freedom and power God gives us to transform the world. Why do we choose to turn away from that essential promise instead of taking part in the work of the Holy Spirit?
How often do we choose debate and philosophy over relationship and reality? Not our broken reality, but the reality Christ has spread before us, just waiting for us to take a bite and enjoy. The Kingdom is more than a possibility, it is a gift here and now, offered to us by the One who made true reconciliation and hope possible.