What did Jesus say about love and unity? “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Did He refer to a love that’s based on everyone being the same? No, not at all! He meant that love should be the modus operandi in all our relationships with other Christians. Are we quick to judge or quick to love?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
When Paul wrote this epistle, at the beginning of Christianity, there were still strong elements of racial division between Jews and Gentiles. From the first book of the Bible, God had designed salvation for “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3), even though the Messiah would come through the Jewish lineage.
While the Old Testament is primarily Jewish oriented, God continually reiterated that His gospel is for all nations: In that day [Christ’s days on earth] I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name” (Amos 9:11-12). James quoted these verses as a validation that the Gentiles are fully included in God’s salvation (see Acts 15:13-17).
One of the main distinctions between Jews and Gentiles was circumcision. The Jewish believers had been so bred in this distinction that many found it hard to overcome. Some even wanted to make it a prerequisite for Gentile believers. The apostles were completely opposed to that because it attacked the heart of the gospel—it’s not about rituals and regulations, but about being “in Christ Jesus.”
Peter replied as follows: “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the [Gentile] disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” He also went a step further toward by stating that salvation is only “through the grace of the Lord Jesus”—not through having been circumcised or being an ethnic Jew” (Acts 15:10-11).
What’s the relevance to us today? There are many distinctions between Christians through age, culture, and denominations. While these distinctions may have their place, they should never undermine the unity of all believers in Christ. Faith in Jesus and love toward Him, His church, and the world is far weightier than any secondary distinction between believers.
The Devotional Writer
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