Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Galatians 3:23-29. Today we’ll focus on verse 26-27:
‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ…’
How are you finding the lockdown restrictions?
At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak I remember seeing something that really began to bring the whole thing home to me. In fact – it felt quite shocking when I saw it – It was lot of people queuing single file, silently outside the local chemist. I noticed the huge sign on the door ‘only 2 people at a time’. It was like something from a movie. I remember thinking – this must be that ‘new normal’ people are talking about.
The other ‘new normal’ was watching some neighbours talking to their children and grandchildren through the window on mother’s day.
We’re experiencing some of the biggest single restrictions to our liberties since the second world war.
In today’s passages – in a rather timely way – St Paul is offering an example of what the law is like – he uses the idea that it’s a restriction and unpacks it with two images.
Firstly we’re told that we ‘were held in custody under the law’ – in other words the law reminds us that none of us can truly meet its requirements. Not even the most attain good living through our own good effort and determined discipline. To borrow a crude analogy it’s bit like when one member of our family who has the most incredible sense of justice and is very adept at pointing out where her sibling was messed up. In fact on occasion she was producing a written list – a case against her brother – of all the times he had in her words ‘broken the rules…’ The constant restriction of the law serves, according to Paul, to remind us of our sin, which is the main gist of verse 23.
The second image he uses 24 is one of a ‘guardian’ but really it means paidagogos – not be confused with the Roman pedagogue (like a private tutor) the paidagogos was known as a ‘boy leader’ who was usually a slave who literally accompanied a wealthy boy to and from school and ‘supervised’ his every move. Their presence meant that there was no room of mischief or it would appear fun and if there was anything of the sort, it would be fed back to the father as soon as possible. Another example of restriction.
As we’ve already established throughout this journey in Galatians – the issue of freedom is really important for the apostle Paul (and the early church). Paul isn’t denigrating his Jewish upbringing but he is seeking to challenge and expose any teaching which draws people away from truly walking and embracing their trust in Jesus. It isn’t my obedience that wins me spiritual brownie points- it’s His love and Grace that I receive. This is the crux of protestant theology – reminds us that it’s ‘Salvation by faith alone.’
So, in verse 26 Paul writes ‘So in Christ you are all children of God through faith…’ It’s a short verse but it’s packed with punchy meaning. ‘Sons’ – We’re no longer restricted either through prison or under the shadow of the paidagogos – both whom images serve to remind us that we are sinners and have messed up. But ‘Sons’ is a very special concept because to the original hearers it would have meant adoption. Adoption in that world was very practical and we’ll talk more of that later in the week. But simply – the reality was that a free man – could adopt a slave child. When that transaction took place the slave child’s world was totally changed. Their status changed. Their restrictions lifted. They had access to a world they could never have dreamt of. That’s the same for me and you. Mindblowing isn’t it?
While the restrictions are in place and perhaps your office is in your house and you’ll spend a lot of the day developing your ‘zoom’ game face. The professional not bored look. As cheesy as this sounds – we as sons of God – we have access to Him. Yes, we’re restricted physically. But in the midst of this lockdown with all of its huge frustrations have access to the presence of the Lord.
Let me unpack it.
My kids sometimes wake up in the middle of the night & as their parents they like to share that with us. It can be a a bad dream or a missing car. They could be thirsty or most annoyingly they come just to tell us they’ve woken up. But the point is that they have access. They’re not restricted and if Paul tells that we’re sons – then it stands to reason that you and I have that kind of access too.
I would suggest that prayer is one of the key ways to walk in God’s presence. To walk in his presence. To talk to Him. Share our thoughts, our hurts, our anger and our frustration – there’s loads at the moment. Why not share it with Him? My prayer some days – especially home school – God bring the breakthrough or Help me Lord or Help them Lord. While we’re externally restricted – internally- in this season the Lord may very well be waiting to reveal to us the vastness of his presence. And the very precious reality that no matter what we are always with Him and Him with us.
Father there are lots of frustrations about this season of life but I pray that we may learn and as your children – we are able to be in our presence. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Galatians 3: 23-29
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.