While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:4-7
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:1-4
In reading all the passages listed above, a common thread becomes readily apparent: we’re all equal in the body of Christ. We’re not even supposed to look at those we don’t know and place them into some sort of ‘box.’ The Acts passage reveals the surprise experienced by Jewish believers already resident in God’s Kingdom. This surprise helps us realize they felt The Way was theirs and theirs alone. Imagine the depth of that surprise. I’m so glad Peter ventured to Cornelius’s home, following God’s will despite not fully understanding the message he received!
This equality message has been heard repeatedly by believers worldwide for generations. We talk about it with each other and all know the message having not experienced the surprise described in Acts 10:45. And yet, this understanding of the Gospel hasn’t quite made it from our Kingdom life discussions to our lives here on Earth as Kingdom dwellers.
I’ve met with a snippet of this surprise in my own life during my first international missions’ trip in 2009. I heard, sadly, for the first time in my life, someone speaking to Jesus in a language other than English. It struck me right then and there that God’s Kingdom was more and bigger than I ever understood or imagined. At the time, I’d been a Jesus follower for a good while, and had heard this Kingdom equality message almost that long. A lot of weight seemed to fall away from me during that experience. The weight of unrecognized selfishness was gone: The Holy Spirit freed me of that burden! I can’t imagine what my Kingdom life would have resembled had I been freed of this sooner.
It’s hard not to think we’re ‘ok’ regarding Kingdom equality and that we’re in tune with it. I would challenge us all to really delve into our beliefs and understandings of this topic, and realistically evaluate where we’re at. I personally find my prayer time to be very revelatory around things in my life needing realigning or getting back on the rails. As you assume your own posture of prayer before our God, ask for divine revelation for areas of equality blindness. Listen quietly, hands and hearts open. If something’s revealed, repent and surrender. Perhaps opening your heart to God’s Kingdom sense of equality will spill over into the life you’re living now.
By Rich Obrecht