Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm Falling in Love...

...with the book of Galatians! 1 Peter has been one of my favorite books in the Bible for a long time, but over the past several months, I keep getting drawn into Galatians. If you haven't read it, it's a book about grace and freedom. Paul wants to make it perfectly clear what the purpose of the Law is and it's utterly ridiculous ways that it is used by Christians. I find it so interesting that while we rebel against the Law in so many ways, we don't really want to let it go. And even if we do let the specifics of Old Testament law go, we create a new Law in our heads and hearts that we feel we need to live by to gain an advanced standing with make Him like us more, to earn His approval, to somehow show that we are worthy of His love, or to pay Him back for what he's done for us. We seek perfection, when we've already been made perfect. We seek righteousness by following a set of rules, rather than by displaying grace and love, when we've already been washed with His blood and can approach the throne of the Almighty God with confidence. We seek to level the playing field, to back a debt, that we simply cannot pay back, because if we could, Christ died without cause or reason. Here's how Eugene Peterson transliterates Paul's words in The Message:

You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.

Scripture backs this up: "Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law."

The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: "The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that's the real life." Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: "The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them."

Galatians 3:1-8, 10-12

God's love for us is limitless. It does not get bigger or smaller based on what we do or do not do. As a father loves his children, he wants the best for us and lays out clearly what that best is - the ways to be most alive, most radiant, most free, until we fully are because we see Him face to face! The ending behavioral result may not look much different to an unskilled observer, but there are worlds of difference between a slave to the law and a free man who lives in gratitude to his gracious and loving Redeemer.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin