Daily Devotional – Tuesday Jan. 23, 2007
Lord, bless me with understanding and clarity. Open me to your message and love.
A little research on this letter of Paul to the Church in Galatia revealed it to be one of his first letters. Also, these letters predate the 4 Gospels. What prompted this letter was a controversy over whether Christian Gentiles were required to follow the Laws of Moses. We learn in his letter that 3 yrs after his conversion he went to Jerusalem and found that the only apostle there was James. He then went to Syria and Cilicia. He was known as the one who had previously persecuted those that followed Jesus and that now he was one of them. He was not famous for his preaching at this time. We then jump ahead 14 years when he again went to Jerusalem.
Why would he need to tell this history to the Church in Galatia? Did he wanted to position himself as the person delivering the good news to the Gentiles? He also needed to address the difficult issue of whether circumcision was required by Gentile believers in Galatia. Paul had preached that it was not necessary and he was criticized for this. This started the split between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians with Paul as the advocate of the latter.
I can relate very well to Paul’s position. He stressed in his teaching that through belief in Jesus Christ we have been given the freedom to be our own person and to express ourselves (desire) and love God in our own way. He teaches that the law is necessary to establish a standard (duty) against which we should compare ourselves. I have always struggled with desire versus duty. Is my behavior driven by my duty according to what is expected or is my behavior driven by my desires? I have come to learn from my own experience that my desire will usually win the argument and this is my sin. However, in Jesus Christ I am not lost. With him as my standard of human perfection, if I commit to adjust my desires to live a life in his image then desire and duty are not in conflict and I am saved. We are born with the free will to find and serve God in our own way. Through Jesus Christ and not through an instruction book, we have the means to adjust our human nature to do it right. Thanks be to God and his servant Paul.
John Dickie, Jan.23, 2007