Galatians 3:21-25 KJV (NIV link below)
21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Time to Grow Up
Yesterday I began talking about the positive relationship the law and gospel have. The two are not opposed. That said, the law does not give us life. The best it can do is restrain us. The promise to Abraham of righteousness by faith could only be fulfilled by Jesus. In Jesus we can be made righteous through faith. The law was a guardian, or a schoolmaster. But once the promise had been fulfilled, continues Paul, it’s time to grow up.
That’s partly what’s going on here. We are justified by this faith. But that justification, as fantastic as it is, comes with some responsibility. Once you are under faith you are no longer under the law and the law was your guardian/schoolmaster (vv. 24-25). The justification of Jesus that comes by faith changes you from a child into an adult. Think about what that means.
Once you are an adult, you have an incredible measure of freedom. It’s a wonderful thing. However, with that freedom comes responsibility. The same holds true spiritually. While the law limited our freedom, it made our spiritual life an easy one. All the decisions were clear cut and handed to us. The thing is, though, that once you become an adult, you can’t go back to being a child. You can’t stay in Neverland.
In J.M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, the audience or reader is taken in by the magical wonder of being a child. Childhood really is a wonderful thing, and even as adults we can get lost in the drama and adventures made somehow alive through the eyes of a child. But there is an element of subtle tragedy that is often missed. Barrie’s work opens with the line “All children, except one, grow up.” It is a good thing to grow up and become an adult, even if we lose some bits of childhood that we wished we hadn’t. The lost boys return (with Wendy and the Darling children) back to London. Peter alone remains in Neverland and, as illustrated in the “Afterthought” added a few years later by Barrie, Peter finds it incredibly difficult to cope with the real world; unable to see the goodness of it, he ends up all but alone in Neverland. Peter Pan is not a hero, but a tragic figure. We all need to grow up. Growing up brings with it both freedom and responsibility.
Jesus tells us we have to take up a cross and follow him. Part of the responsibility of being an adult is that you are no longer allowed to be accountable only to yourself. In my adult life I’ve found I’m accountable not only to my wife and my children, but also to others within society. We have a natural revulsion when we witness the immaturity of people acting without concern for others. In our Christian walk, there is a responsibility to God and Christ, who is our spouse in a manner of speaking, and to our fellow Christians, the Church, to bear each others’ burdens. Becoming a disciple of Christ means taking on freedom and with it responsibility. It means it’s time to grow up.
Add your thoughts and finish the post: What does it mean to be an adult spiritually? In what ways is living as a disciple of Jesus more difficult (read: entailing more responsibility) than not? In what ways is it more rewarding?