Monday, June 18Scripture Reading—Galatians 6:11-18
This closing section of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is written not by a scribe as had been the rest of the letter. This custom, often observed in Paul’s day, gives the writer the opportunity to summarize his message and in this case, Paul does so with great passion. (I suppose this practice would be like sending someone an e-mail today in all capital letters!) Throughout this letter, Paul has been concerned—angry would be a better word—over missionaries who’d gone to the region of Galatia instructing new Christians that for their faith to be authentic, they needed to embrace Jewish cultural practices like circumcision. For Paul, reverting to these practices was a denial of the message he’d proclaimed—it is only by God’s grace and not by any human ethical achievement or ritualistic practice, that we are made right with God. Paul was so passionate because he had learned the difficult, costly, and painful lesson that the cross of Jesus Christ put to death a worldly system in which people’s worth was determined by their cultural status—Jew, Greek, slave, free, male female (see Galatians 3:28). This new creation is made possible through the suffering of Jesus. It signals an end to human divisions and human assessments of who is truly religious and thus worthy of God’s grace and who is not. So, Paul tried one last time, at the close of this letter to shout down what he perceived to be an attempt to make people think that God’s grace alone was not really sufficient for salvation. We need more people like Paul today—people with the boldness to proclaim that the world’s definitions of human worth are part of the old order that has been destroyed by the cross. We need to live into the new creation where we all recognize our need for mercy, and where we all acknowledge that whether we like it nor not, we are all part of God’s family.
Thought for the day: The good news calls forth a passionate desire to celebrate and defend the new creation brought about by the cross--a new humanity where the world's labels and estimates of human worth give way to the acknowledgement that all of us are offered God's mercy!
Prayer: O God, when the world seeks to define or label me--or anyone else--help me to remember that through the cross of Jesus Christ, we are all invited to be members of a new creation where the only label that matters is beloved child of God. Amen.