It’s crazy how I can read something so many times, then – on what seems like the 100th time – it clicks.
The gates of my heart are opened and the truth rushes in. What simply made sense before suddenly makes all the difference.
Although my “100th time” phrase is probably a slight exaggeration, it’s probably closer to the truth than I realize. Growing up in church, I’ve read or heard Galatians read…or memorized or heard it recited many, many times.
That is the mixed blessing of growing up in church – a blessing because I heard the truth from a very young age and mixed because I have had to fight to know the truth (not just let it go in one ear and out the other) constantly. Which, I guess is a complete blessing after all – I’ve had to learn to fight to know the truth for myself, to act on it, to walk it out. Not just hear it or passively accept it or assume I know what it means but not let it really change me.
Anyways…jumping off the rabbit trail…this last Saturday in Galatians – Day 6 to be exact – we reviewed Chapters 1 & 2 after studying them throughout the week. And I’m so glad we did.
Going back over them – reading them in the New Living Translation and then in The Message – I read something that I’d read before…but had never really seen:
Galatians 2: 15 & 16 – The Message:
“We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen!”
And my heart leapt inside of me. The truth was so simple and yet so profound, I couldn’t understand how I had missed it all this time.
How could Paul say that we, as Believers, are not set right with God by the law, by keeping man-made rules, by checking off a list? How could he possibly have the boldness, the nerve, the confidence to say such a thing?
Because Paul had been a Pharisee – a law-keeper to beat all law-keepers. A maker of rules to beat all maker of rules. His list had been checked off twice…no, three times. He had been there, done that. And he had tried it with the “best system of rules the world has ever seen!”
This was my “aha!” moment: the realization that I didn’t have to try law-keeping, rule-keeping, list checking…because it had already been tried. And – what’s more – I was off the hook for having tried and not succeeded.
Because of course I have tried it. I’ve lived under the law, rules, lists. Boy, I am good at checking off lists! And I guess I thought for a long time – deep down, sub-consciously – that it was just me that was broken and not the law. It was just me that couldn’t make it work, that couldn’t cut it…and that somehow I was supposed to in order to be a better Christian. I understood that it wasn’t what saved me…but I thought it would somehow be a bonus in my relationship with Jesus. As if I could add anything to what Jesus did on the cross.
Oh, how foolish.
Galatians 2:15 & 16 breathed fresh air into my spiritual lungs. It took the focus off of me and put it back on Jesus Christ. Even Paul – one of the great Apostles of the First Church – had failed at keeping the law! He had been there, done that…with the best of the best when it came to laws and rules and lists.
It’s not us as Believers who are broken – we have been made whole through the work of Jesus Christ! And I am resting in that truth today. The truth expressed so beautifully in Galatians 1:4 – New Living Translation:
“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.”