Yr C ~ Pentecost 4 ~ Galatians 2:16-21, 3:2 MSG
Galatians 2 is a very dense and confusing scripture passage. That’s why I’ve used Eugene Peterson’s translation from The Message bible, but even it’s a bit much. So I’d like to start today by paraphrasing this paraphrase.
We know very well that we are not put in-tune with God by rule-keeping but only through an ongoing personal experience of the Presence of God, such as revealed in and by Jesus. Rule-keeping or behaving seems like the right thing to focus on, but it isn’t.
Have outsiders noticed that we’re not yet perfect? Absolutely! Some people actually think that because Christians are flawed or inconsistent therefore Christianity is bad. What a ridiculous argument!
But they’re right about one thing: Christians have been focussing on morality and behaviour way too much. That’s why they think we’re hypocrites – because we’ve trumpeted behaviour and then, being human, we misbehave.
Look, we’ve all tried keeping rules and working our heads off to please God and it didn’t help. So we Christians need to quit being about “the law” and start being more about God.
Jesus’ life shows us how, and enables us to do it. We need to identify ourselves completely with him. Indeed, we need to be crucified with Christ – which means dying to our old ways and being “reborn” and embodying God’s ways. Our ego can’t be central. It doesn’t matter if we look good in other’s eyes and it’s certainly ridiculous to try to impress God.
We need to be able to say this: Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith. How does our new life begin? Is it by working our heads off to please God? Or is it by responding to God’s nudge?
What is church about? What is faith about?
We’ve inherited a faith that was mostly about believing and behaving.
Agree with this set of orthodox propositions or you’re not “in”.
Do this, don’t do that. Be a good citizen. Be a do-gooder. Fit in the box.
Faith is not about behaviours, it’s about a relationship – a deep knowing, an open-hearted vulnerability that allows God’s Spirit to flow like the blood through your veins, like the air through your respiratory system. We’ve inherited an idea- and behaviour-based religion, yet Jesus taught a relationship-based faith. We’ve mistakenly thought church was all about doing, but faith is actually all about being. read on