Galatians and Grace
Over the summer months the staff of PPC studied the book of Galatians. Throughout our studies, several themes continued to percolate in my mind, but the overarching idea from Galatians simply can’t be overstated. Paul reminds the church of Galatia that faith in the law (i.e. man) rather than faith in the Lord will essentially get their church nowhere.
I think many people fight the internal battle that Paul targets. We all strive to achieve and work and, perhaps, even behave as defined by “the law”. The law in this context describes the parameters defined by man, not necessarily through God. We struggle, much of the time, to differentiate between our law and God’s law. In fact, this struggle has been among the top news stories in the last few weeks. Our confusion leads us to the lowest common denominator, the law in the physical realm that entices us with a sense of structure and sensibility while cannibalizing our faith in Christ. We spend all our time arguing about the law and forget about the grace.
One of the notes I wrote in my journal as we read Galatians is: “grace is not a passive thing…it takes work.” This is a challenging thought. Grace is freely offered to us all through Jesus Christ. Why would it take work? Galatians 5:1 states that, “Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” I see this as Paul telling us that once we accept Christ, we are charged to live more like Him. We are not satisfied by human law alone, but submit to a higher power. Paul continues in verses 4-5, “You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” Living like Christ, now that takes work!
Grace is not a passive thing. I think this was my reminder that we need to routinely and continually rededicate our lives to Godliness instead of worldliness. I do not see grace as some exhausting marathon. It is, however, easily kicked to the side because of our addictions to the law of man. As I have found myself in conversations, some heated, about recent current events, I have not pressed the pause button to put grace back in the front of my mind. Instead, like so many of us, I got tangled up in the semantics and interpretation of the human law. I forget sometimes that I don’t have the authority to judge man…that job is already taken by someone who is qualified for the task. My job is to shine like a light, to share God’s grace, and to live my own life in a way that inspires others to seek more of Jesus. And wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all sought that level of grace and righteousness!