“IF they would just spell out their expectations, then I would know exactly what to do to meet them.” A co-worker of mine once complained about the lack of clear cut job description and performance measures. If you have ever worked under a teacher or boss, who expected you to understand what you were supposed to do and when, without giving guidance, then you can relate to my friend’s concerns. With her you can shout, “For Pete’s sake, just spell it out!”
Well, God did that! He gave his people the Law. And then over and over again, they broke it. Over and over again, God disciplined them and forgave them. By the time Jesus came, the Pharisees, priests, rabbis, and lawyers had worked God’s law to serve them. Still as Paul points out even the best rule keeper, and he declares himself to be one, cannot keep the law.
Welcome to Galatians 2: 15-21! The Epistle reading in the Revised Common Lectionary…you know, random thought again, I should check out the “Common Lectionary” and figure out what has been revised..oh, well, another day. Galatians 2: 15-21 finds Paul dealing with “THE EXPECTATIONS” of the Law, which he calls the best system of rules in the world and being RIGHT with God through our faith and by His Grace. In the scripture right before this reading, he has rebuked Peter for snubbing the Galatian Christians on his visit there.
The Jewish Christians in Paul’s day had a problem, one ingrained in them from birth. They accepted Christ as the Messiah of God and as their Savior, but felt they still needed the FRAMEWORK provided by the Law and they really felt that made them Better Christians than the Gentile believers. I mean those folks had no CLUE, what they could do or couldn’t do to please God. Best to get them under the thumb of legalism as quickly as possible or else they might roast a pig for a Fellowship Dinner.
Today some Christians lean toward legalism, preferring to be told how to be a Christian, preferring a definate list of do’s and don’t’s. Some just want the structure, but some want to be able to point a finger at “SIN” in others. Paul saw those tendencies in the 1st Century Church.
Paul, Pharisee of Pharisees, Big time Law Keeper and Enforcer, before Jesus got his attention on the Damascus road, before his three years in Arabia with the Holy Spirit, this same man profoundly understands how important it is not malign the Law, but to live in the freedom of Christ. He cuts to the chase, when he states, “I have been crucified with Christ–I died to the law–Christ lives in me and I live my life for Christ…not to please other people or to put on a show of piety.
I really love dwelling on the last verse because it gives me chill bumps, “I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!” If I can be good enough, follow the law perfectly, if I COULD SAVE MYSELF, then Jesus leaving heaven, limiting himself to a life in the flesh, suffering, and dying was a completely useless sacrifice.
Elijah breaking down on the mountain, David crying out to God, Paul encountering Jesus…imperfect men enabled to do great things with God. They could not save themselves. They weren’t looking for more defined rules, they longed for, pleaded for, desired GOD!
That’s why we must live our lives in Christ with Christ inside, God heard our cries. He whispered to Elijah, He restored David, He chose Paul and He reaches out to each of us so that we can have a relationship with Him and not be fenced in by the finite law, but alive in infinite grace.
Pray as if there were no boundaries
Nothing between you and God
Live as if there were no mountains
Nothing God cannot solve
Live the life Christ has given
Nailing your sins on His Cross
Live as the Spirit flows thru you
Live in the freedom of heaven
Nothing between you and God.
Have a wonderful Thursday!!!