Modern English Version
But before faith came, we were imprisoned under the law, kept for the faith which was later to be revealed. So, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
You are all siblings of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, and there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham and Sarah’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Words of Hope
Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia has a central theme that is once again echoed in the verses for today’s devotion. Paul is concerned to ensure that everyone understood that a person is justified through faith in Christ and not by the works of the law. This theme repeats itself repeatedly and the writer, we assume Paul pays special attention to this fact because of the lens of his own journey and background toward faith in Jesus.
Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, was trained as a Pharisee, a teacher of the law! His whole experience of knowing God was by following the law of Torah, the Hebrew scriptures. He was a persecutor of those who were coming to know Jesus and it was only through his own rejection of Christ, and his conversion to the ways of Jesus that he was finally able to move beyond the ritualistic, some might say “God in a Box”.
Today, Christianity seems to be a bit like a religion filled with rules and regulations, more ritualistic that experiential. Sometimes it might feel like you are “going through the motions” rather than engaging in an encounter with the Divine God of love. Indeed, it is the encounter that takes God “out of the box” and places us into a dimension that is filled with hope and promise. It moves us from a “God out there”, to a “God within” that leads us to know Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. It is this living experience of God that should compel us to live our faith, rather than just believe.
I have sometimes been heard to say that if they could prove that Jesus did not die, did not rise again, was not the miracle-maker that I have come to know, I would still be a follower of Jesus because my faith is not bound in what He did, but who He was and remains to be, to me.
It is this reality that breathes life and hope and promise into my faith, not by the law but by the Spirit that blows as She will and makes a way when there seems to be no way. The Spirit who compels me to live as I say I believe – that I might truly echo the words of Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, and there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Today is National Love People Day and I would like to extend that to World Love People Day! May we be willing, as followers of Jesus or as “just decent human beings” find a way to demonstrate love today to whomever we meet along life’s journey.
May we be bold enough to affirm and demonstrate the greatest commandment of Jesus who teaches us to “Love God, Love People: All People.”
God of us all, hear our prayer this day as we deliver on the promise of Jesus who leads us to Love God, Love People: All People. Amen.
Rev Dr. Neil G Thomas
Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ