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Religion loves labels; Jesus calls us by name

posted 4 Oct 2013, 04:11 by Stephen Childs   [ updated 4 Oct 2013, 04:18 ]
Price by Salvator
When I was growing up in the 80s, the only colour skin you saw on the street was pink. Apart from a few visiting Spanish students every summer, almost everybody you met was Irish. Things couldn't be more different now - in our estate alone there are Irish, Nigerian, Australian, Russian, South-East Asian, Polish, and Indian people. We're all aware that there are real differences between us, and most of us want to live together happily and peacefully. The question is - how?

One of the deepest religious, cultural, and ethnic divisions ever known is the one between Jewish people and Gentiles (everyone else). In the time of Jesus, if a  Jewish man married a non-Jewish woman, his funeral was carried out. But in the part of the Bible we looked at this week, Paul tells us how Jesus:

has made the two groups [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace (Eph 2:14-15 NIV)

If he can unite such desperately divided groups, surely his message has some relevance for multicultural Ireland today? Paul makes it clear that this unity only comes to those who put their trust in Jesus and his death, rather in religious rituals and regulations. Rules and ceremonies are not the way to God. When we start relying on Jesus, we are given a new identity that is more important than any of the labels we pick up in the course of life. And when people live out their identity as Christians, it results in unity and peace. It's all about relationship with God and each other and is totally different from religion:
  • Religion loves labels and titles; followers of Jesus call each other by their first names
  • Religion loves hierarchy; followers of Jesus are all part of the same family
  • Religion loves competition; followers of Jesus love to cooperate with each other in God's work
That's the kind of community we hope God is building at Calvary Church Castlebar. Although we make mistakes and remain sinful and selfish, we believe God is changing us and can change you. We'd love you to come and join us to find out more, wherever you come from and whatever your religious background is.

"Price" image by Salvatore Vuono -