The message of the Gospel joins the religious and the non-religious under the same roof of freedom. Freedom from the law, freedom from sin, freedom from worrying about the way others perceive us. Out of all of the things from which Jesus set us free, the one about the law is the hardest for people to grasp.
How can God gift us with ‘perfect’ and we remain clearly imperfect? How can a holy God not require or, at least, be pleased with our efforts to be as blameless as Jesus?
Your faith eliminates your fear. Faith in the completed work of Jesus eliminates the fear that your shortcomings have anything to say about you. When you ‘get it’ don’t back down from the revelation of the truth just because it goes against the traditional religious grain.
While we were in conference we were infiltrated by spies pretending to be Christians, who slipped in to find out just how free true Christians are. Their ulterior motive was to reduce us to their brand of servitude. We didn’t give them the time of day. We were determined to preserve the truth of the Message for you. –Galatians 2:4-5
Churchy people, the one’s who are all about religion with no concept of Gospel, will watch you and wait for you to trip up. These are the people who think that your sin is evidence that you are not a Christian. If you believe that your sin affects your relationship with God, then they’ll jump in and try to show you how to avoid failure (reduce you to their brand of servitude). ‘Standing firm in your faith’ is not ‘refusing to sin’. Standing firm in your faith is refusing to believe in the power of your sin. When I say, ‘Don’t back down from the faith.’ I mean, ‘Don’t believe them when they say you’re ruined.’ Keep the faith in what Jesus did because what you do (or don’t do) can’t take that away from you. Preserve the truth of the Gospel.
As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn’t concern me. God isn’t impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. -Galatians 2:6
No one has an edge on God. People can look important because of where they stand, how they throw their weight around or how much they talk. Are you content to just ‘be’ without trying to perform and move up in the religious clique? Church’s have cliques. It’s like High School all over again. Only this time, what makes you cool is your religion. How religious you are is what makes you popular.
Who sits closest to the pastor or his wife? Who’s got an ‘in’ with the ‘cool’ youth pastor? The people who are performing their way into acceptance are absolutely suffocating the people they’re trying to impress. They’re elbowing out freedom. They’re shrouding the truth of the Gospel with their elaborate religious super-hero capes.
Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. -Galatians 2:11-12
We do this. We care so much about appearing right that we cancel ourselves out. We confuse the people we’re leading and our hypocrisy causes others to join in the charade.
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. -Galatians 2:18
Stop trying to be what only Jesus can make you. You have been set free from the responsibility to make it by your own sweat. Your efforts only demean your faith. This is the hardest thing for people to grasp. This is the thing I get emailed about more than anything else. But, luckily, I’m just a messenger. The scripture is clear. I write it how I see it.
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. -Galatians 2:20
We have to remember that following a set of rules and making sure you keep up appearances is evidence that you have no faith in what Jesus did. You are making a lie out of the Gospel. If the only way to the Father is through Jesus, then why are you trying to get an edge any other way? Make sure your life isn’t on a spin that tries to dumb down the finished work of Jesus. If you could do this yourself, then how can you be aware of your need for Him? That’s a scary place to be, because those people are so proud of themselves. It’s like they’re shining their ‘crowns’ in their imaginations.
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. -Galatians 2:21
This post was inspired by Galatians 2. Galatians 3 is on the way….