Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Coming of ageGalatians 4: 1-7
V4-5: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship”
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul fervently opposes efforts by a party of Christ’s believers who are convincing gentile members of the church that true believers must follow the Jewish law in its entirety. When read in the context of its time, it’s easy to judge the people of Galatia. How could they have misconstrued the good news of the gospel so quickly? And yet we have painfully repeated their mistakes. We too are divided by parties often touting our own practices and traditions as true over others.
This makes Paul’s admonition and encouragement to the people of Galatia deeply relevant today. In Galatians 4 Paul specifically deals with the use of the Law of Moses as competition against the gospel. Paul clarifies that their attempt to elevate Jewish law above the gospel was actually an indication of their bondage to this law. He helpfully draws an analogy of this bondage to that of an underage child; the Jews of Galatia can understand what it means to be a child without authority and under the jurisdiction of a master. They can conversely also relate to the experience of being free once they have come of age. Paul likens this to freedom under the gospel.
He highlights the advantages of membership under Christ. You are not only adopted as children of God in heaven, but you also receive the spirit of adoption. That is, you literally resemble God the Father in body and spirit. As His heirs, we are also His reflection.
In this, Paul equalizes the community of Christ. I’ll venture to say that what's tempting in distinguishing ourselves from one another is that traits related to culture, language, or class are seemingly within our control. We have some jurisdiction to decide who belongs where. But this is a false sense of authority. In attempting to elevate traits of the world over the gospel, we are in fact submitting to bondage by the law of the world. We are not truly free at all.
What makes the Gospel stand above all other religions and doctrines is that it has been graciously gifted to all people. We have not earned the grace of God. And therefore we have no authority to create a hierarchy within God’s kingdom. Receiving this truth is ultimately what frees us from all bondage and grants us freedom in Christ.
While the Jews of Galatia believed they were heirs of God by human birthright, Paul makes very clear that ALL who have confessed that Jesus is Lord and received His spirit of sonship are God’s heirs. Whether you are slave, free, Jew, or Gentile, you have been given heavenly authority and identity as the offspring and heirs of God the father.
Abba Father, thank you for your gift of Grace, for redeeming us from bondage, and for calling us your own. Lead us to be honest reflections of your love and grace in the world. Amen.
Manna Samuel, LIMC NY