For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:27-28, CSB
With this verse, Paul cuts to the core of how we tend to define identity and self-worth: sex (“male or female”), race (“Jew or Greek”), and socio-economic status (“slave or free”). These basic things have divided humanity since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden. For much of our history, humans have created a grid using three criteria and ranked each other (and themselves) accordingly to determine who is “okay” and who is not.
But Paul says that Jesus didn’t come merely to reshuffle everybody on the grid. He blew the whole thing up and made an entirely new system. Instead of a grid, Jesus created a circle that includes people from all walks of life, regardless of sex, status, or race. The only way one gets into the circle is by faith in Christ, not from their own merit. Our distinctions still exist, but instead of being a source of division, they are a source of tremendous variety in the body of Christ.
Our identity – our “okayness” – is now derived from being in Christ and counted as adopted sons and daughters of God. Our self-worth is not based on what we have achieved but on the grace we have received. We are God’s children, and that can’t change. We are free to use the talents, gifts, and abilities that he has given us to live like his children, knowing that we are loved and valued by Him, regardless of how the rest of the world measures us.
Markets were rocked in what was a data-intensive and volatile week. Global stocks were down approximately -3.5%, while the S&P 500® fell by -1.5% – touching an intraday low on Friday not seen since January 5 – and crossed below both its 100-day and 200-day moving averages. Growth stocks showed relative strength as value names slipped into negative territory for the YTD period. Large caps outperformed small caps in this environment. Financials led the decline with the FDIC takeover of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), unnerving investors in all spectrums of exposure to capital markets players. (Please see the special section below for more on the SVB failure.) Markets began their slide on Tuesday with Federal Reserve Chairman Powell testifying before Congress and stating that policymakers were prepared to speed up the pace of tightening and hike to higher highs if inflation maintains its current strength. WTI oil ended at just under $75/bbl, roughly where it has averaged this year.
Bond markets showed extreme volatility as well. The yield curve downshifted materially, with all maturities' yields falling in a flight to safety. The benchmark 10-Year U.S. Treasury fell by a massive 27 basis points to 2.70%. The U.S. dollar exhibited quite a bit of volatility but was essentially flat week-over-week.
In typical cadence, European stock markets moved in lockstep with global stock weakness and were not helped by a continued weakening eurozone economy and consumer. Chinese equities also gave up gains, with stocks now in negative territory for the year (a spectacular fall from strong double-digit gains seen just weeks ago), coinciding with Xi Jinping's election to a third term. Japanese markets bucked the trend and made modest positive gains as the Bank of Japan left its accommodative monetary policy unchanged.
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