Reading: Galatians 3: 23-29
Paul’s message to the Galatians is first and foremost that they are “Christians” – heirs to the promises of God. Paul in implying that they are heirs to all of God’s promises. He does not delineate to just a few of them but he implicitly states that as those baptized into Christ they are blessed with all of His promises. This too is our view as contemporary readers of the Bible. We see all of the promises made to Abraham, Moses, … as promises that apply to us as well. Christians are not just a New Testament people, but a people of the whole Bible.
The people of Paul’s day felt a little conflicted about the full application of the Law. We too walk this middle ground today. We read and apply some of the Old Testament and the Law, such as tithing and most of the Ten Commandments, but we certainly do not follow all of the Old Testament. For example we do not follow most of the dietary restrictions or the Sabbath laws and we do not celebrate the festival’s such as Passover. We hold onto many of the promises and some of the Law however. Those things that Jesus emphasized or instituted are followed – baptism, communion, serving the needy, and the two great commands.
At times our churches and we as individuals can function much like the faithful Jews of Paul’s day. We can exclude or be non-welcoming to people who do not fit into our boxes or who do not conform to all of our expectations. For some that’s how they dress and for others it is what part of town you’re from. For some it is your ethnicity and for others it is your style of worship. Our bottom line, though, is still the same: we are all children of God and therefore heirs to His promises of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, … and all are called to love all as Jesus loves us: unconditionally. May we come to see all as welcome in His kingdom and may we live and love accordingly.