As part of our ongoing series “The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching” we’re encouraging the people of Good Shepherd to begin their days in the Word and not in the world. I am devoting this space to reading prompts so that we can resource the same people we encourage.
This week’s readings reinforce last Sunday’s bottom line: God is too good to be fair. As a result, we will look at a number of different sections from the letters of Paul, all of which revolve around the idea of what we call “salvation by grace.”
Today: Galatians 3:1-29
OK, if YESTERDAY you admitted that you didn’t know there was such a thing as “Titus,” TODAY is the time to admit you’re a little surprised to see the way Paul addresses the Galatian churches in 3:1:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”
And before you answer that last question with “Elizabeth Montgomery?” please know this: the Galatian churches, after joyfully receiving salvation from Jesus by faith, had begun to ADD TO JESUS. We believe they had fallen under the influence of a teaching group known as “the Judaizers.” The Judaizers taught the Galatian Christians that they had to add certain religious customs before becoming fully Christian. For Paul, the equation is much more simple: JESUS + NOTHNG = EVERYTHING.
Paul then goes on to talk about the preparatory nature of the Law. In other words, the Law, as good as it was and as liberating is obedience to it, still points to something greater. Jesus.
Ready for some controversy? Look at 3:26 and ponder this: you’ve likely heard a million times that “we’re all children of God.” What if the answer to that is “no”? We’re all LOVED by God, certainly. But how do we become his children? “By faith” according to 3:26. This is one of those examples of how carelessness with language leads to sloppiness in teaching and at Good Shepherd we want to avoid that.
Finally, Galatians 3:28 takes us back where we started the week. As people trapped by sin and saved by grace, we stand alongside Jew, Gentiles, slave, free, male and female in celebrating our living relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.