From: Kara Dodds
This morning in our lectionary reading we listen as Paul continues his rebuke of the churches in Galatia. Paul recounts to them his second visit to the church in Jerusalem which he had made because of a revelation he had received concerning those among the fellowship who had spread a counter gospel that was troubling the church and unsettling the minds of believers. This counter gospel was one of works-based righteousness in which the path to favor with God was a result of submitting to certain rules and regulations. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem had preserved the truth of the Gospel and ensured it was proclaimed with unity among the Apostles. Imagine Paul’s concern to hear that now, only a few years later, the churches in Galatia had fallen into the same old trap, turning to a different gospel and deserting the one who called them into the grace of Christ (1.6).
In the introduction to this letter, Paul proclaims the grace and peace of the gospel over the churches of Galatia and reminds them of the true gospel: that Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age (1.3-4). Later, Paul warns that Christ will be of no advantage to those who choose to walk in the way of works first (5.2). In other words, even in the present evil age, right living remains powerless to produce right standing with God. It is only in accepting what Christ has done on our behalf that we have peace with God. It is in this peace, this freedom in Christ, that right works find their proper place as we offer works of worship instead of bondage.
So how are we doing? Have we, like the church of Jerusalem and the churches in Galatia, fallen into the same old trap? Let us not be troubled with the pride (or shame) of the futile exercise of measuring against our own standards, others’ standards, or those of our culture. Instead, let us be people who, because of the gift of God, are free to offer works of service and sacrifice which proclaim the sufficiency of him whom we worship.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
I live in Jamaica Plain with Chris and Barnaby.