The more I read through the Bible, the more I want to strip down all the periphery we have made Christianity and come to its essentials. I have loved Paul and his writing more and more over the decades of walking with Christ. There is a vision he truly saw beyond his time that I have found compelling. There have been numerous times I have been reading one of his letters and said out loud, “I want to SEE what you saw, Paul!”
There are three places in Galatians that, I believe, capture that vision more fully than most places. I am not a scholar. It’s simply something I “feel” as I read him over and over.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Common English Bible (Ga 2:20). (2011). Common English Bible.
I chose the CEB on this one because of the phrase “by the faithfulness of God’s Son” rather than “by faith IN the Son of God.” The NRSV has faith IN the Son of God, but the updated NRSV follows the CEB and puts the faith OF the Son of God in the text and footnotes the alternate. It’s a debatable point, to be sure, but I chose this because I think it shows Paul’s deepest intention: this is ALL GOD, not us.
The second place:
Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Jews wanted separation. Culture wants separation. Everything in this world wants separation! We want WALLS! We want to know who is IN and who is OUT. We want to know, most of all, that WE (our people, our tribe, etc.) is ON TOP. Hierarchy matters.
The Kingdom of God comes along and says, “NO. What matters is CHRIST. HIS character matters and HIS character says WHOSOEVER comes…”
The invitation is broad, but if you still want walls and hierarchy, you’re not going to love allegiance to the Kingdom of God. This is why we need the Cross. I need the Cross to separate out the nasty desires of this world and get me to the purity of what matters to Christ.
Which leads me to the third place:
Galatians 6:14–15 (NIV)
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.
What counts? The new creation.
My ethnicity doesn’t count. My denomination doesn’t count. My gender doesn’t count. The separations this world makes has to be separated from me. The Cross does that work. I need the Cross working in me… deeply.
I don’t just dream some utopian dream. I need the Cross of Jesus Christ active in me so that I can live out that ideal. It’s not my ideal. It’s not Paul’s ideal. It is Christ’s vision. This is what I want to grasp. This is what I want to live.
Get me to the essence of your Kingdom, O Lord!