So should it be now, in the visible church, in Christ. Enjoy our cultures. Let the nations stream in. Let our potluck dinners represent the foods of the world. Let the parking lot be filled with the languages from across the globe. Let the tunes to which we sing God’s Word reflect the peoples of the earth but let our identity be pre-eminently one: Christian, bought and washed with the blood of Jesus and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and walking together, hand in hand, with each other to our shared promised land.
Christians are not Gnostics. Against the Gnostics, Christians have, since the first quarter of the second century, affirmed the essential, inherent goodness of creation. Against the Gnostics and Marcionites we also affirmed the unity of the covenant of grace. Both of those truths help us to address the problem of ethnic tensions in Christ’s church.
As part of recognizing the existence of the goodness of creation, while he preached the gospel of grace to Jews and to Gentiles, the Apostle Paul recognized the distinct nationalities and ethnicities of the various peoples to whom he preached. In short, for Paul, grace (redemption) did not obliterate nature (creation). Neither, however, did nature limit grace. We see this most famously in Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11. Taken in context, in Galatians 3, Paul was defending the essential unity of the Abrahamic covenant, the covenant of grace. He was explaining to the congregation, against the Judaizers, that both justification and salvation are by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) and that the covenant of grace (as represented by Abraham) is permanent but the national, legal aspect of the Mosaic covenant (it has a dual aspect, since it was also an administration of the one covenant of grace) had expired. In chapter 4 he will contrast Moses (as law) and Abraham (as gospel) by way of an allegory. Beginning in 3:23 he wrote,
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:23–29; ESV).
The national, ethnic distinction between Jew and Gentile expired with the cross. Now, in Christ, there is, relative to salvation, no Greek (i.e., Gentile), or Jew, slave, free etc. Those categories, relative to the covenant of grace, relative to justification and salvation, are immaterial. Obvious, as a creational, sociological, and historical realities they continued to exist. That is why Paul was able to invoke them. He reasonably expected his readers to understand the referents to the words “Jew” and “Greek,” etc.
He made much the same point in Ephesians 2:11–21.