God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 - Galatians 4-6: Arguing over Religion is a Waste of Time

Today’s Reading: Galatians 4-6

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus brought us into an intimate relationship with God. The circumcision sect wanted to separate the Gentiles from God once more.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Paul continued:
Jesus' Coming made us God's Children, not God's Slaves. Abraham had two sons: one symbolized slavery (Ishmael), the other freedom (Issac). You can either be free in Christ or a slave to the Law.
Religion is meaningless. Only faith expressed in love matters.
Use your freedom to set things right—love others as you love yourself. God's Way makes life worth living.
Whatever you plant you reap. Sow good!
Remember that the circumcision sect doesn't obey the Law, either. Basically, what is important isn't what we do, it's what God's doing.
May Jesus' Blessings be yours.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Now we have something greater than the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses was the greatest Law that existed. So when Paul writes that something better has come, it is saying more about Jesus than the Law of Moses. Jesus brings us into an intimate relationship with God where the Law kept the people at a distance. It is this reason that the ones pushing circumcision are doing the Galatian Christians a disservice. They value tradition and religion over relationships. They are separating God and the people again. Paul wants to make sure the Galatians do not fall for it.

Paul warned the Gentiles to question their teachers' motives.

Paul wrote how the teachers were looking for dependent students who needed them, not God. They wanted the Gentiles to obey a law they did not obey. Gentile converts would add to the individual Jew's prestige but the Gentile would lose out on a personal relationship with God. Beware teachers who make you dependent on them to understand God. God has made Himself known to the world.
We cannot read this without questioning the goals of our evangelism. Do we want more funding to "teach more people" or are we willing to encourage believers to interact with God independently, regardless of how it looks to us? To suggest they "need us" because no one knows what would happen is to suggest that the Holy Spirit cannot guide and to suggest your religion and traditions are more important than a relationship with God.

Once you accept a law, you accept the entire law.

Paul wants the Gentiles to know that if they want to obey the Law of Moses they cannot stop with circumcision. They have to continue to unclean foods, not mixing fabrics, and all of the other 600+ laws in the Law of Moses. They cannot pick-and-choose their favorite few laws that are easy to do. They have to do it all.
When we call people to become God's Chosen People and join a local church, we need to remind them that this commitment is not to attend worship only when we get together to eat. The commitment is to do everything that the fellowship agrees to do or abstain. The worst thing that can happen is a person come into a church and half-heartedly participate. Either join a church or don't. Once you do, do everything they agree to do. To willingly abstain is to do wrong—in essence, not set things right.

Freedom is meant to help us set things right unencumbered, not stop setting things right.

One of the strongest arguments against freedom in Christ (and freedom in general) is that people would abuse that freedom and do whatever they wanted to do, regardless of the consequences on others. Paul makes sure this is discussed, too. Freedom does not give us the ability to do as we wish. Freedom gives us the ability to focus on setting things right instead of pleasing God with our religion. The Galatians knew how sin hurt a person and their relationships. Freedom in Christ does not include evil. Christ is wholly good. God is wholly good. If we want freedom in Christ, we must be holy, too.

Disputes over religious observances and other religious acts are tedious and not worth our time.

With so much going wrong in this world, spending time arguing over circumcision, baptism, musical instruments, meals in the church building, music styles, teaching styles, etc. are a colossal waste of time. People live in darkness because they do not realize God is calling to them. Disputes over religious observances are wastes of time because God calls us to much higher things than these. When we limit ourselves to observing a law perfectly we miss the opportunity to help set relationships right. In the end, it's not about what we do anyway. It's what God is doing and if we join in His Work.

Do you argue over religion or fight to set relationships right?

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