Sunday, May 27, 2007

Reflecting on Galatians

Re-read Sean Winter's Galatians Bible study from the Baptist Assembly and began reading his Whitley lecture. The former is full of good stuff - as I said before - the latter looks really interesting.

We have begun preaching through Galatians at church and this week I was exploring identity through Paul's long autobiographical section (1:11-2:21 - the longest in any of Paul's letters).

Half way through talking about our identity in terms of call (by God) and community, I got a sense of just how vital Galatians 3:26-29 is in all this.

I believe Galatians to be Paul at his most apocalyptic 1:4 and 6:14-15 bookend the discussion with suitably apocalyptic tones; his discussion of the new life we enjoy in the Spirit is apocalyptic and thus so is his description of the new humanity we are in Christ, summarised in 3:26-29. It's almost as if this is the peak of the mountain whose low slopes are marked out by 1:4 and 6:14f.

If this is the case then it's crucial that we grasp who we are in Christ in terms of the new creation and not in terms of categories derived from this age - Law, ethnicity, social status, education, whatever (I agree with Sean that gender differences are still important because sexuality is a core part of what it means to be human and does so in the new age as well as the old one; but that gender domination has no place in the new age, for we are equal in Christ and equally called and gifted to participate, minister and lead in god's new community.)

A key point that I made this morning - I'm not sure entirely effectively - is that the distinction we sometimes make between 'human beings' and 'human doings', emphasising that we're the former, misses the point of who we are in Christ. Paul describes his identity and work in the same broad sweeping term - call (1:15). This emphasises the all-encompassing nature of the life of discipleship. After all, in the terms of his other strong image in the letter, we can't just be crucified with Christ on Sundays and at the mid-week bible study; we either are or we aren't. Being crucified with Christ defines our lifestyle 24hours a day, seven days a week, for it's no longer me that lives but Jesus who lives through me (2:20 - next week's topic - bring it on!).

So it matters not only what we do but also - and possibly more importantly - how we do it, because it is the way we live out our calling to be disciples in the world in a way that makes us part of God's renewing of creation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heard Sean's Whitley lecture, it was fab. Looking forward to hearing you when you venture north of the border soon! Margaret