Summary: As Paul, Barnabas, and Titus strolled down the streets of Jerusalem to meet with the Church leaders they were a living illustration of the diversity of the Body of Christ.
Unity in Diversity
The Body of Christ is as diverse as the snowflakes that fall on the Colorado Mountains. In every corner of the globe you will find those who bow their knee to the King of all kings. When Christians gather across the planet you will find Chinese Christians singing their favorite hymns in the Mandarin language. In Nigeria—men, women, boys, and girls gather together to pray and dance to the beat of the drum. In many places in Russia today school kids learn to read English by reading and singing the Holy Scriptures. In Mexico, this very morning, Carlos Jimenez is singing “Gloria Dios” – “Glory to God!” with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Matamoras. In Ecuador, where missionary Jim Elliot was killed by tribesmen for sharing Christ many years ago, five of those who killed him are now elders in a church started by Jim Elliot’s widow, Elizabeth. In England, Princes and pipe fitters gather in ornate cathedrals, listen to the booming sounds of pipe organs, and recite the Apostle’s Creed.
All over the world the cause of Christ has made, and is still making its mark on hearts and souls of people who vary in dress, style, and appearance like the colors of the rainbow. What it is that ties all of these various people groups together into a family that is closer than any bond that blood can produce? Quite simple – it is the message of the Cross.
As diverse as the Body of Christ is today, there is a unity that transcends culture, class, education, and socio-economic backgrounds. The message that is being preached from pulpits of cathedrals, in apartment living rooms, dirt floor sanctuaries, and grass huts is not diverse – it is one – the message of what God has done through Jesus Christ for sinners!
In our study last week we took a look at Galatians 1:11-24 where the Apostle Paul was defending his gospel. He wrote to the brothers and sisters in Galatia that he did not receive his message from men, but as a revelation from Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to refute the claim being made by the false teachers that he was somehow a renegade understudy of the true Apostles who had gone out on his own and contorted and twisted their message of Truth. Paul wrote,
11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12 NIV)
Paul was ministering, he was teaching, he was declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ under the authority of the One who called him and set him apart from birth. He didn’t need the approval of men since he didn’t receive his message from men.
In our study for this morning we are going to begin to take a look at our next section of Scripture found in Galatians 2:1-10 where Paul makes it clear to the Galatians that although he was called and commissioned by Jesus Christ and was acting independently of the other Apostles—he stood with them in total unity when it came to the content of the message of salvation by grace through faith. Let’s take a look at our Scripture for today. Read along with me.
1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. 3Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. 6As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:1-10 NIV)