Humanly speaking, Christians are a diverse lot. We come from every nation, tribe, and people group (Revelation 7:9). We speak different languages, possess a variety of skin tones, and reflect unique cultures and social classes. But for all who are members of Christ’s family, race, rank, and gender lose their significance: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, ESV).
Every person comes to Jesus Christ the same way—by grace through faith and repentance from sin (Acts 16:30–31; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Mark 1:15). “Jew nor Greek” speaks of race, nationality, and ethnicity. “Slave nor free” refers to our rank, social class, or profession. And “male and female” indicates our gender. These distinctions lose their importance in the heavenly Father’s eyes. We are all one in Christ His Son.
The apostle Paul explained, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12–13, NLT). Our spiritual connection unites us into one faith and one family: “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (Ephesians 4:4–6, NLT).
We are all one in Christ has wide-ranging implications. First, it calls for unity and harmony among brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. We are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, like Jesus, showing humility, gentleness, patience, “bearing with one another in love,” and making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3).
We can embrace our differences, even celebrate them, as long as “above all” we clothe ourselves “with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14, NLT; see also Ephesians 5:2). The unity of believers is emphasized in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer as the Lord prays that “all be one, just as you and I are one . . . so that the world will believe you sent me. . . . May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:21–23). Relational unity in the church is the best witness to the reality of Jesus Christ and God to the world.
The unity Christ prayed for is not an organizational unity or a denominational unity but a spiritual unity based on faith in Christ and the glory of God within. “Christian harmony is not based on the externals of the flesh but the internals and eternals of the Spirit in the inner person. We must look beyond the elements of our first birth—race, color, abilities, etc.—and build our fellowship on the essentials of our new birth” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Transformed, Victor Books, 1989, p. 80).
Discrimination, prejudice, and racism have existed in every generation, but there is no room for such bias in God’s family. As Paul so eloquently stated, “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us” (Ephesians 2:14, NLT). God made human beings—the entire human race—in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26–27). If we hate someone because of the color of his skin, are we not hating a part of God’s image?
Paul also said, “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us” (Colossians 3:11, NLT). How can we hate or discriminate against someone if Christ our Savior lives in him? Every form of condescension, partiality, and intolerance based on race, rank, and gender must be repented of and nailed to the cross because we are all one in Jesus Christ.
Christians should be united in passion, plan, and purpose, just as the Father and Son are united in the same. Christians are all treasure-bearing earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christians are all redeemed by the same blood; we are all going to the same heaven; we have a shared aspiration, a shared enemy, and a shared hope and joy.