Num 21-22; Gal 3; Psalm 107:1-22
‘Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?’
St Paul’s letter to the Galatians is famously his least pastoral letter. There is no prayer for the congregation and Paul moves directly from his greeting to his astonishment at what is happening amongst the Galatian Christians.
Having believed and received new Life in Christ, they are now resorting to works of the Law, especially as we have seen the ritual purity laws directed towards preserving Jewish identity. We know that things have come to a terrible place for Peter has been refusing to eat with Gentile Christians. This is the primary meaning of ‘Works of the Law’ is indisputibly in this context.
Now, of course we may well say that we do not have the same sort of issues in our day, but of course a moments thought does perhaps give us pause, in that we might separate ourselves from our fellow believers for any number of reasons. I argue elsewhere that Schism is The sin against the Holy Spirit and it is interesting that Paul opens his argument in Chapter 3 in terms of reception of the Spirit, reception of the very life of God.
For a moment I just want to focus in on this . . . ‘Did you receive the Spirit . . .’ not as a question addressed to the reader, but rather a rememberance of the extraordinary nature of what is born in us as we believe in the name of Jesus. It is usually around this time of year that we approach Easter, and a question I have constantly laid before myself is – ‘What is the impact on my daily life of the Cross and the Ressurection of Jesus?’ Do I live my life in terms of the radical transformation of Reality brought about that first Holy Week and Easter? Do I live a life free from fear, free to serve, to obey, to go where I am called, knowing that Christ has paid the full price for me and now that the life that I live, I live by faith, Indeed that my Life now is His Life in me.
The Resurrection of Christ changes everything – it announces God’s New Creation – When I received the Holy Spirit, I became part of that Creation, the Life that is Eternal. After the initial glow of our conversion wears off, do we like the Gentiles go back to the old ways, as if nothing had happened?
The disciples of course do this, Jesus finds them back on the lake fishing.He calls them back to a life of total dependency on Him. He calls us also. Life beckons. Do we hear?