Friday, July 17, 2009

ALL Who Believe

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,* heirs according to the promise.

I have always loved this passage of scripture, it makes me feel loved and cared for by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It reminds me that God had a plan all along to bring us into relationship with our Creator.  And it helps me know that God loves us no matter who we are or what our statue in life.

As a child I was educated in a private school of another denomination.  I was always conflicted about the teaches of a God who expected us all to be perfect and seemed to be looking for a way to send us to hell if we stepped one toe out of line.  I had a lot of fear as a child, fear of making God angry and making God not love me anymore.  But I also had a lot of questions as a child, a lot of unanswered questions as to why the same God who chose to die for us would at the same time be looking for ways to condemn us to a fiery pit? I watched over the years as many of my childhood friends made a commitment to the church, scared of their fate if they did not.  I watched as they tried to live up to the expectations their ministers preached at them.  I also watched as they began to give up, thinking that they could never live up to the standards that others seem to achieve. I could almost see their faith and hope slip away, replaced with resignation and acceptance of their condemnation. Many of them feel into self destructive patterns that affected their lives for years. It was heartbreaking to watch. Those who longed to be in God’s presence feeling unworthy and unwanted. 

It was this small passage from the book of Galatians that helped me to begin to understand the truth about Christ’s sacrificial love for us and our relationship with a God who cares for each and every one of us. When I read the words in verse 25: “But now faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian” That it hit me...Jesus came to bring us into relationship with God the Father not to add a new layer of judgement.  Verses like John 1:17 “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” and John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that ALL who believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life” tell us of a God who has made provisions for reconciliation with the Divine, to reunite with us with a minimal request in return...that we believe! WOW! A God who will love me and wants to be with me even when I mess up? A God that wants to love me SO much that Jesus was willing to make a path leading straight to the Kingdom of God? Now this is a God I could understand.  The more I read this text from Galatians, the more distant my former understanding of a judgmental God became, the less bound to laws and rules, the more thankful for grace and mercy.  And the oddest thing is, I did not become someone who believes they can do anything they want... I did not fall away from my moral center just because I believe that grace is shown me everyday.  Instead of being scared that God is looking for a way to send me to hell, I am everyday seeking ways to be closer to the holy and divine image of Christ which loves God completely and loves neighbor as self. Love of God and neighbor always points us to God’s will not because of fear but because of relationship and gratitude.

The law was never meant to be used as a weapon by God to condemn us, it was a guide to help us stay in relationship with God and one another. And Grace did not come and wipe away the law but to complete it...because if we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves then we will be able to show grace and love to one another even when we aren’t perfect just as God has shown it to us. 

Lastly, We have to remember that NONE are outside the love of God, as Galatians 3:28 reminds us “ALL are one in Christ Jesus”.  It is a challenge sometimes for us to remember that God’s love is out their for everyone, the playing field is completely level for ALL who believe, even messy, sinful, lawbreakers like you and me!!



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