So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. — Romans 12:5
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. — Galatians 3:28-29
Christ is in us and we belong to Christ. We who take his name in word and deed, who accept his offer of love and share it willingly with others, we are Christ’s beloved. This is a significant message, as the Apostle Paul reminds us repeatedly in his epistles. It is our identity and it is our gift freely given by the Bridegroom. No one on this earth has the power to take that away from us, regardless of what they think, say, or do.
I thought this a good starting point for my article. So many times we may feel threatened or abused by the words and deeds others in the church bestow on us. It can be very difficult to keep from wondering if what they have to say about us is right, if the things they do to us might be in some way justified. I know I have from time to time.
But Jesus and Paul, one of his chosen messengers, make it clear that the way of Jesus does not justify exclusion. There are no categories in Christ, we are all one in the body of our Savior. And just as we are all equal parts of Christ’s body, so then are we equal in value to each other, no matter who we might be.
Does an arm boast of greater importance than a finger? Or an eye claim to be better than a foot? Jesus makes it clear that none has the right to feel holier, or more “Christian” than another.
In verse 10 of Romans 12, Paul instructs his brothers in Rome to, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” He is telling us as Christians to build each other up, not to divide ourselves into different groups. “We, being many, are one body in Christ.”
It is our love of Christ and the intimacy of our walk with him that defines us as Christians, not our sex, gender, or romantic attachments. We are to be “little Christs” as our mockers once called us, but that does not mean we should act like squabbling children. No one is “less Christian” than another, one is either a Christian, or not a Christian. There is no in between.
If others make you question your value to Jesus, seek his counsel. Seek him in the Word and seek him directly through private petition. He will tell you who you are to him. It is he who has the final say over who you are in his body. Ask and he will show you how you look through his eyes. You are his and his only request of you is that you cling to him in all things.
Others may quote the biblical law at us, but as Paul pointed out to the Galatians, “If keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” The Pharisees were fond of quoting the law to Jesus, but Jesus threw it right back at them. “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7) Their law did not set them free, as Jesus showed them, it did not even give them much authority over the life of another. None are free of guilt under the law, for all have fallen short of the glory of God. So it is even today.
But there is a difference. Two-thousand years ago, God, clothed in mortal flesh, came to us as his own son, Jesus, and died on a cross for all of us willing to carry his name. On the day he was crucified he took all our collective sin upon himself. On the day he rose again, he released God’s grace to all of us. None can claim perfect righteousness, but all are worthy in Christ’s name. He has given us what we could never earn, he gave it to us freely, without condition, because he loves us. There is no greater gift.
So when others tell you that you are not worthy to call yourself a Christian, know that they are not taking Jesus at his word. Nor are they heeding the words of Paul, whom Jesus himself saw fit to deliver his message to the world. When others call you less of a Christian for who you love, or how you identify yourself, remember that Jesus loves you as his chosen bride. When others quote the law at you, as did the Pharisees to Jesus, remind them of Paul’s words and of Jesus’ admonishments for the proud.
We all are one in Christ’s body, it is our journey with the Bridegroom, who woos us all with his unfailing love, that defines who we are. If any have forgotten this, be quick to remind them, but remember that none of your brothers or sisters in Christ are perfect. Neither are you. All have fallen short of the glory of God. We each share our weaknesses as well as our love of Jesus. Trust in the Lord and do not lash out in anger; if your brothers and sisters do so, should you then share their folly? They hurt themselves in hurting you, should you then increase the size of the wound? Respond always with intent to heal. Treat them with loving kindness. Perhaps they will learn from your example.
Jesus says we are all united as one body in his nam., Has Jesus ever led you astray? When in doubt, trust in him. Even Godly humans can be wrong, but Jesus is the Living Word that never fails. In his eyes, we are all worthy to be his bride.