Friday, November 27, 2009

Freedom in Christ!


In my chronological reading, the book of Galatians is plopped into the story right here.

Interesting, in that Paul's theme in Galatians is freedom in Christ, and he just got out of jail!

He is fighting for the teaching that it is not adherance to rules that wins God's favor. Here is a snippet of his plea...

15 -16 "We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over "non-Jewish sinners." We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
17 -18Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren't perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was "trying to be good," I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan."

How do you become a "good" Christian? Do you have to become GOOD to be a follower of Christ? How does it work? Christians seem to be really good people. If I don't measure up, can I ever become a Christian? Listen as Paul makes his case...

19 -21 "What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."

He goes on.

We come as we are. He takes us as we come.

Then something happens to us. More on that later.

Our pastor says something shocking -
"No perfect people allowed!"

He says that in CHURCH, no less!

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