Well, we finished our study of Galatians yesterday. Now, I’m going to give just an overview of what I think the primary message of Galatians is for us today and then turn it over to you, please leave your comments about how you felt about the study. If you want to look back on any of the previous reflections click here for a calendar that is hyperlinked to each post.
Galatians is fundamentally about what grace means. As part of that meaning, we have to come to an understanding of what the relationship between the law and gospel is. While the law, the Jewish Torah, is not a covenant devoid of grace, it was, nevertheless, meant to act as a temporary placeholder. When Christ came we were told it is time to grow up, and the relationship fundamentally changed. That change was a good one, though. It removed all social distinctions constructed by people and societies and leveled the playing field. Further, it broadened the scope of God’s covenant to include both Gentiles and Jews, including the broadening of active participation in that covenant, to include women and slaves (or those of lower social standing). Ultimately, then, what counts in God’s kingdom is not who you are in yourself, or what you do in yourself, but who God is, and what He has done for you that you could never do for yourself. This has a further implication.
While this necessarily means understanding our salvation in terms of rescue, something we cannot do for ourselves, it also means understanding our salvation as freedom, which carries with it more (not less) responsibility. If we are free, then we can’t get by with a singular act, like circumcision, but are instead obligated to fulfill the greater parts of the law, such as love your neighbor. We are to do these things, and ultimately to make a response to Jesus, out of our freedom, not because we have been determined to do so out of birth. Freedom, which is truly a wonderful thing, brings with it the responsibility to choose. While ultimately we are saved solely by God’s grace and not our own efforts, that salvation leading to freedom is a call toward willing discipleship. As result it is better to be marked by adherence to Christ than to be marked by some external act you do to yourself. Therefore, while on the surface Galatians is addressing the issue of circumcision and its superfluous nature, the way in which Paul constructs his argument means that Galatians says something very fundamental about Grace, our relationship with God, and His Kingdom on this earth, all of which is still relevant today.
What do you think? How have you liked going through Galatians (or whatever part you went through) this lent? Is there any particular way that God has spoken to you through this study? Did you find this study helpful in your own spiritual walk? Leave your thoughts on the study below. On a practical level for the future direction of this blog: Would you like to see more of this type of study in the future (such as on a weekly basis)? Are there other topics you’d like to see addressed? Any other books of the bible you’d like to go through? Any gross errors you’d like to address? Please comment to both a) build each other up, related specifically to this study and b) guide the future direction of this blog
This is the end of the Galatians series. Tomorrow will continue a series of posts on Holy Week, which was begun Sunday, with Maundy Thursday, followed by Good Friday, and then a Resurrection Sunday post. The overarching theme is on how Jesus’ actions change everything.