Scripture: Galatians 3:1-14
Key verse: (1) You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!
Reflection: For me in this time in history it is hard to read this passage and get past verse one. Reading about Christ’s public crucifixion immediately brings to mind the very public death of George Floyd, and before him many other black men and women. My heart breaks for the senseless violence in our nation, my heart breaks for the fear of so many, my heart breaks for divisions that are ever visible and real.
As Christians we proclaim that Christ died and suffered on our behalf, that Christ died our death once and for all, that there is neither Jew nor Greek, that there is neither slave nor free, that we are all one in Christ. And yet, suffering continues, racial injustice continues, divisions grow wider. How do we hold these two realities together?
Continuing in our passage gets to this dichotomy for me. Paul goes on to talk about works of the law vs. faith. These two ideas are difficult for us to translate into our modern ears. But looking contextually, let’s take a moment to identify what we are really talking about. Throughout the Old Testament we see that the law is set up as a mechanism to help bridge the gap between God and humanity. However, as we as humans lived into the law we successfully made it a stumbling block. Often times the laws were followed in letter but not in spirit. The prophets spoke to this trouble with the law, asking not for sacrifices or burnt offerings but for justice, mercy, humility, and peace.
On the other hand, we have faith. In our modern language faith has become a set of beliefs, an inwardly focused doctrine that we believe or hold on to. However, the word faith really just means to trust. And trust is not solely inwardly focused. Trust dwells deep within us and flows out into our lived experience.
If I have faith, if I trust in Jesus Christ, in whom we claim that there is no longer Jew nor Greek, no longer slave nor free that does not simply reside in my heart, but must flow out into my lived experience, into my actions, into my very being. My faith in Christ, my trust that the good news that all are loved, and worthy of that love is not something that I keep in my heart, but that we are called to proclaim with our mouths, display with our hands, follow with our feet, and exhibit with our very lives.
Beloved, this is not easy. For too often when we look around us the reality of what we see is not in line with the promises of our faith. But may we not lose courage, may we not become timid, for we are told that, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) May we dare to hold fast to our faith and live it out boldly, so that our lives may be evidence of the hope yet unseen.
Prayer: Gracious God, we acknowledge that we are not perfect, we confess that we are often timid. In these times may we rely not in ourselves, but in our trust in you. Give us the strength this day to live out our faith in love. Through Christ we pray, who beckons us on this journey by the guidance of the Spirit. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].