Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Freed for Freedom

I've just spent most of the day writing an overview of Galatians. It was still pretty rough when I delivered it this evening, although it wasn't bad considering I started from scratch this morning (with a few pointers from Peter). But I'm basically loving Galatians now! I need to spend more time digging into it, but it's been a great reminder of just how brilliant the gospel is, and how stupid it is to trust anything else. Plus it's a real challenge to keep watch for legalism creeping in. It's so easy to start trusting in things which aren't the cross; it might not be as obvious as obeying the Old Testament law, but we can easily invent a million other kinds of law to put in it's place...

One particularly striking bit is the barney Paul has with Peter. Peter is behaving badly by separating himself from the Gentiles (non-Jews) when his Jewish mates come to visit. Paul goes ballistic, although it leads to some quality insights about being justified (or 'made right with God') by faith. But I think what makes it worse is his hypocrisy (2v13). Peter doesn't believe that he needs to separate from Gentiles for theological reasons - most of the time he eats with them. But when people are looking, he changes his behaviour to please them.

I started to wonder - do I do that? Do I act in ways which don't fit with the gospel, just to keep other people happy? And do I condone other people doing it, when I should be challenging it like Paul did?

Paul challenged it because it was really, really important. By moving to a different table, Peter was doing more than just disrespecting the Gentiles. He was effectively saying that the rules were more important than the gospel, and that the cross isn't enough. No wonder Paul went crazy. Maybe I should go crazy more often?!

You can look at the overview here if you want to.

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