The Pauline letter to the Galatians was one, if not the earliest correspondence to the Christian community that was emerging after the resurrection of Jesus and the subsequent birth of the church. The introduction puts focus on Jesus’ work as the essential ingredient in what Paul calls God’s rescue plan. It is that “rescue” visual that propels Paul to cascade the message and work of Jesus into what we’ve come to know as the gospel. Translated more closely these days as the Good News.
For me, growing up in an unchurched family meant that the meaning of the gospel took on several iterations as I bumped around the concept of faith. I clearly remember as a child repeating the questionable prayer of children; “Now I lay me down to sleep….” Any thinking child would reason out the words of that prayer and it didn’t take me very long to let my imagination run wild with the implications of; ‘if I die before I wake.” Many nights I lay awake imagining all sorts of reasons that might exist for how I would not survive the dark soul of the night. Early on faith and hope were found in needing confidence against the fickle nature of the universe, at least to a eight year old.
Tomorrow’s message will survey how my growing, changing sense of faith moved from this fire insurance gospel to the “being seen, being heard” gospel of adolescence and then to the success and significance stages of development. Though my stages of faith have all had flaws, one thing remains true for the most part; I am continually tempted to add more to the Good News than what was already offered by God’s grace. I scarce can believe that His love for me is sufficient cause to release me from my own wickedness and self-interest.
For some reason I can see when others try to add some requirement to the gospel and thereby require others to work their way into heaven. I have little patience or tolerance for that kind of bondage. I have constantly challenged others who would bind my friends or parish with unnecessary elements that serve as requirements for their faith experience. But for all my discernment on behalf of others, I must admit that I can’t always shake the same requirements for myself.
My personal prayer is that during the weeks of spring and early summer I can be further moved into grace-filled living by the message of good news found in Galatians.