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Galatians 2:11-21, Justified in Christ

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ
— Galatians 2:19

NL Daily Devotion for Thursday, August 29, 2019

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

For Paul, returning to Jerusalem was a tricky business. Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish community of Christians -- Christians who continued to live by the Jewish laws and traditions (like those regarding circumcision, eating and refraining from eating certain foods, and rituals around washing and cleansing). But Paul had been traveling, spreading the gospel to the uncircumcised -- to non-Jews who became new believers in Christ. It was a radically different concept -- that Jews and non-Jews could come together, bonded by a faith in something greater than any single religion by itself. Paul wondered how he might be received, but he had confidence that the gospel he proclaimed was the truth, given by the risen Christ.

Recently, the MTV Movie Awards made their best actor category gender-neutral. The winner was Emma Watson, who gave a moving speech about the breaking down of barriers with the non-exclusive award. The separation of genders has been so deeply ingrained in most of us, it may seem odd not to separate awards by gender. After all, men can't play roles written for women, nor women for men's. Neither can black actors play roles written for whites, and visa versa. At least, not now. We are still too entrenched in our culture and our divisions to see any way around it. But maybe one day there won't be such a division. Maybe one day roles will be written for people, not for genders or races. I have often fantasized about remaking popular movies with the exact same scripts, but switching all the genders or switching all the races, and see how the movie plays out. Imagine the top action movies with all roles given arbitrarily to a variety of genders and races based solely on the ability of the actors to play the roles convincingly. Imagine the top romance movies doing the same. To our conditioned eyes, such a reversal would be jarring, maybe even offensive.

Imagine Jesus portrayed as a black man. Or as a woman. We have long been used to seeing imagines of a non-Jewish Jesus. Could we stretch our imaginations to seeing Jesus as non-white, or non-male? These barriers are similar to the ones Paul sought to break down. What barriers exist in your mind that could stand to be challenged?