October 27, 2016
Ever know someone who resisted freedom? It might seem strange, but people do. A freed inmate after a 25-year sentence, finds life on the outside more difficult and thus commits a crime so he can go back to prison where he is comfortable and taken care of. A woman in an abusive relationship (married or not) returns back to “her man” because it’s what she knows. A sinner, who has experienced forgiveness of sins and knows of the love of God in Jesus Christ, returns to a life trying to please the Lord through his works and good deeds.
The third example here is where the Galatians were. They had returned to the Law, which the Judaizers were imposing on them, in order to earn favor with God. Paul is flabbergasted! Several times he states how he just doesn’t understand why they would do such a thing.
I’m reminded how, in the book of Exodus and in the book of Numbers, you see the now freed people of God want to return to Egypt, the place of slavery, when the struggles of life came about. They knew they were slaves there, but it was familiar to them. There was a set of expectations they could handle. Freedom was not comfortable for them.
I think it is hard for us to appreciate freedom fully. Human nature likes laws and perimeters. We live in a world of natural laws that govern our lives here on earth. Most of us have fences around our yards. We like our dogs on a leash and our kids under control. But the freedom being talked about in Galatians is one that reminds us how Jesus set us free so that we don’t have to try to obey the Law of Moses in order to find favor with God. Instead, we are free in Christ because we’ve received the Spirit through His Word, through our baptism. We are free to pray 5 minutes a day or 5 hours a day. We are free to love our spouse with all our bodies. We are free to lavish love on our children, neighbors, and coworkers. We are free to sing songs, make music, design art, build buildings, businesses and more. And in the context of the Galatians, they were free…free from needing circumcision as a sign of the covenant because they have the cross as their sign. Why they were trading in the cross of Christ for the cutting of their flesh was a mystery for Paul.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to understand the freedom I have in You. Keep me from wanting to return to sinful ways of slavery in the flesh while helping me to live in such a way that my freedom is not a stumbling block to others. Amen.