Thursday, February 05, 2009


On Sunday I went to hear a dude give a talk about Galatians. Now, Galatians is plenty solid, but I’ve been in that book before, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a revelation. What I heard caused my heart to pull out a ladder and make its way to my throat.

The talk came from the first chapter of Galatians where Paul writes about his disgust for the Jews who were adding to the gospel. The path to Christ that Paul had told the Galatians about was being complicated by old-school Jews. Jews, who wanted Gentile Christians to practice parts of the old law. So Paul is hacked, and he’s not pulling any punches in letting his readers know about it. This part of the study was what I expected—its good stuff even for today. Anytime people manufacture requirements to reach Christ we should be disgusted. (Insert whatever church traditions you’ve seen people bind as law here.)

The chapter takes a turn about half-way through as Paul validates the message he originally preached. He does this by telling his own story, highlighting the revelation he received from Jesus.

What the speaker chose to highlight next grabbed me.

Paul’s life before Jesus’ intervention had been flawless. He went to the best schools, excelled in his studies, climbed to the highest ranks of the religious elite, and then made it his personal mission to eliminate those who would try to change the old ways. He was living a life of righteousness, but what was his motivation? You see, the speaker explained, he was trying to gain favor with God by doing all the right things.

And then in verse 15 he writes: “But when God”. Paul’s life story hinges on those 3 words. That was the moment Paul quit and God began. The system of the old law was designed to give followers a way to achieve favor with God. But when God sent Jesus, the system changed. Now the favor is free, there is nothing we can do to achieve it.

That made me swallow, trying to coax my heart back to its normal spot. How long have I been keeping score, trying to collect enough points to earn God’s favor? This introspection and the following realization were liberating. It came with a wave, like a gentle rain that honestly left me a little weepy. You see, in Paul’s story when he stopped and God began the repercussions were immeasurable.

I want to stop and let God begin.

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