Cry freedom!

Not the film, but a random title that popped into my head when I was reading my Bible study notes.

Anyway, I found today’s reading very challenging and not a little scary. The series is on redemption and today’s passage is Galatians 5:1-12 with an emphasis on freedom from the Law. I had one of those ‘woah!’ moments as I was reading it when one of those ‘big picture’ pieces fell into place (and left me wishing it hadn’t because it means I’ll need to do some more thinking).

The particular part that has got me thinking is verse 6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” Given Paul’s obvious anger in this whole passage, it’s something he’s serious about and, I guess, we should consider seriously as well. He’s basically saying that if you follow one bit of the Law, then you need to follow all of the Law and you will be judged by the Law. But Christians aren’t redeemed through the Law, rather, through Grace and faith in Jesus. That faith is demonstrated by our love for Jesus, for one another, for our world. It’s demonstrated through following the loving example of Jesus – selfless, indiscriminate, abundant, unquestioning.

So for, so easy (hah!), but the bit that I really need to spend time in prayer and reflection about is the whole idea of when do we apply ‘the Law’ and when do we respond in love? It’s that old ‘the Bible says’ chestnut. Are we applying what it says in a legalistic manner, or we applying it because it’s an example of how God wants us to behave? The obvious one is homosexuality. Condemned because the Law (the Bible) says so (arguably), yet, if we apply that Law, why not the others? Why is this one different? Is there a balance to be struck? But that’s just one small (albeit controversial) example. Does it not also spill over into the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ attitude so prevalent in churches?

More thinking required.

2 responses to “Cry freedom!”

  1. Nothing like starting with something easy!!!

    This for me is one of the central issues facing the church. It’s one of those make or break questions. Grace or the Law? And are the two exclusive?

    I have to say at first glance I’d choose Grace every time. And that looks like the easy choice except Grace isn’t easy at all. It’s hard, unfair, unjust and really rather annoying!

    At least with the Law you know where you stand. It’s much more black and white. You can apply it equally and know that it will be applied to everyone in the same way and to the same degree.

    Thing is Jesus was much bigger on Grace. Undeserving people were the recipients of it, not the great and the good. People are forgiven, redeemed and all that through Grace, not through the Law.

    Practicing the Law is much easier than practicing Grace. Maybe that’s why we choose the Law so readily?

  2. Interesting thoughts.
    My own take is that application of the law is the easiest thing to do in most situations. Something is allowable in law or not, you don’t have to think too much about it. In my view, that is why it is preferred by most religious leaders. The last thing they want is for people to think for themselves as this ultimately empowers them and in so doing removes power from those leaders.
    In one sense we should never ‘do as the Bible says’, or think ‘WWJD’, on the contrary, we should seek guidance from the experience of people of faith and wisdom contained therein and apply it in the most discerning way possible.

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