SCRIPTURE: Galatians 2:19 (TM) - larger reading Galatians 2:11-21
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man.
The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn't know what to do. Napoleon's massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
Paul speaks about the conflict that arose between himself and Peter. Oh, what a struggle took place. It was a struggle all right and it remains a struggle today. Simply put the larger issue is Works Righteousness.
If I only do this or do that then God will judge me as righteous. If I only tithe, go to church, attend Sunday school, read my Bible, do projects around the church, serve on a committee, pray daily, and various other little acts of “doing this or doing that” … then I will be blessed, deemed worthy of Christ, seen as holy.
The old Protestant Work Ethic rears its head all too often in the church you and I participate in. But try as we may we cannot gain our righteousness before God by what we do … no matter how hard we work, no matter what we do. The Kingdom simply doesn’t work that way.
What we are striving to achieve is a free gift. Most of us already know that, so why do we continue to go down that road?
Could it be an attempt to think of ourselves as worthy? We are a people that have committed ourselves to the idea that everything that comes to us that has any value must be earned. There is no free lunch. It is a real challenge to wrap our gray matter around the thought there isn’t anything that we have to do to be deemed worthy in the sight of God. In our American way of thinking it just doesn’t make sense!
But that is the way God works. What doesn’t make sense to us, makes sense to Him. What doesn’t work in our world, works in His. There really isn’t anything that we can do to earn God’s favor. God chooses to love us and give us His grace simply because He chooses to love us and give us His grace. It is not about our worthiness it is about God’s undying love.
That’s the power of Easter morning and the resurrection. We didn’t work Jesus alive. We didn’t earn His resurrection. We didn’t achieve him back from the dead. We had nothing to do with it. All we can do is accept it, glory in it, rejoice over it, enjoy it, celebrate it …
Glory! What a free, unearned gift. Now live it!
Help us to live as those who go forth to die!