Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sunday

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.

7 Comments:

Blogger Adam Wolfgang said...

I am reminded of a Sara Groves song:

I'm standing at the foot of this mountain
Wishing so bad that I could touch that sky
But in the time it takes to make my wish
I never take a step and I never try

I wish that I were closer to jesus
But not enough to get me out of bed
For an early morning prayer before the
Rushes of my life take me instead

I'm past the wishing
Past the wishing
Past the wishing

I'm gazing in these deep well waters
Where the pennies of my life have all been cast
I've decided I am going to save my money
To do something that lasts

You've shown me my man of macedonia
You're calling me further on
And I'm tired of saying it's a nice idea
I wish it could be done

I don't wish that I could go I am going
I don't wish that I could be I am being
I don't wish that I could do it I am doing
By the grace of god I am doing

Love ya brother!

Fri Feb 06, 08:08:00 AM PST  
Blogger Jennifer B. Davis said...

Thanks for sharing this great insight. In my view, it is our small thinking that makes us believe that we can (or need to) impress God. He is bigger than all of that (and frankly we are not all that impressive) and already loves us (which is impressive). Now, with that out of the way, what can he do with us?

Seek on.

Fri Feb 06, 09:39:00 AM PST  
Blogger Johnny said...

I find myself having the same fight that Paul describes in Romans 7, but mine is often over this very concept you described, "trying to do the right thing to impress God," instead of accepting what God provides. And the journey continues.

Sat Feb 07, 10:34:00 PM PST  
Blogger Sara in Saraville said...

Wow, thanks for sharing God's whispers to you with us! Just the reminder I needed to get my eyes back on the One who wants to take my heavy burdens and give me rest in their place. Why is that so hard to believe sometimes? Truly, Jesus loves me!

Thu Feb 12, 12:06:00 AM PST  
Blogger Allan White said...

Just absorbing. Thinking about you guys on your journey.

Thu Feb 12, 04:28:00 PM PST  
Blogger Luke Coles said...

Really good stuff. Wish I could have heard it live.

Thu Feb 26, 04:05:00 PM PST  
Blogger ~JJY said...

Jason Hill. I miss your words and your songs.

~JJY

Wed Mar 24, 07:48:00 AM PDT  

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