Segregating ourselves along ethnic and social lines is a common human practice. We're simply more comfortable around "our kind" of people, and we tend to keep our distance from those who seem different from us.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul addressed the challenges faced by a group of people from mixed backgrounds. Within this particular group, there were people of Asian, Greek, and Roman heritage. The New Testament also specifically mentions a businesswoman who sold expensive cloth to the rich, a slave girl who was demon-possessed, and a prison guard (Acts 16).
Paul's answer to the question of how to blend their multiple ancestries and social classes was the unity they shared in Christ. He wrote, "Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News" (Philippians 1:27). Unity was at the top of Paul's list for this diverse fellowship. It's the same message he stressed to the church in Galatia: "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). The apostle wasn't denying the value of one's ethnic background or gender. He was, however, lifting up and affirming the spiritual oneness that is found in Jesus. Here's where we share common ground, regardless of our race, social status, or gender. Ethnicity and social class will always possess the potential to divide. But our shared unity in Jesus has the power to supersede our differences and draw us together for a greater purpose. , Jeff Olson
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