Sunday, June 12th I preached on the third chapter of the letter. What follows is a sort of outline I used to preach. I didn’t complete the ending of the sermon as I asked the congregation to name the ways in which we divide Christ’s church. As they named the divisions, I had my intern write down the responses on sticky notes and he put them on me while they spoke.
After I was covered in posted notes, I preached the Good News of Galatians 3:28: we are one in Christ. I walked to the baptismal font and reminded them that our baptism into Christ is enough. We are one. Then I put my alb back on which covered up the post-it notes.
Note: I don’t have cable TV (nor do I have time to watch TV on Sunday mornings) and didn’t know about the tragedy in Orlando until after I preached.
You are under a curse! Quite powerful words Paul is using here in his letter to the Galatians. Paul uses the word curse (or cursed) five times in these five verses. We also find the word law used another five times. These are serious words Paul is throwing around and he is calling our attention to a very real matter. And through his writing, Paul is saying that this curse doesn’t just affect the Jews, but the curse is upon all people. It is the curse of the law, because of our sin! We are all under that curse.
So, let’s take a step back and see where we’ve been on this short sermon series: What’s going on in Galatia? Church to which Paul is writing. Paul doesn’t waste any words indicating that there is conflict going on between insiders – the circumcised Jews who live by the Law and thus follow the covenant of Abraham, and those who are Gentiles who are given faith by the Holy Spirit. So there is a great deal of division around the question of ‘could those leaders in the church be gentile and therefore uncircumcised and not follow kosher be effective leaders in the early Jesus movement?’
In his letter, Paul is saying, “YES!” IT is possible for Gentiles to provide leadership in the movement even though they are not people of the covenant – Jews. Thus, we hear in this third chapter of Galatians Paul’s position on the matter. And that is – Gentiles are not required to become Jewish in order to baptized and follow Christ as the savior.
And here in lays the rub – not everyone in the church agrees with Paul’s position. There were those who took the position that one in the early Jesus movement must first become a follower of the covenant of Abraham in order to receive Jesus as the second covenant which was the promise of God through Jesus Christ.
Yet here is Paul’s major theological position : the major distinction between people is not a qualification or disqualification for participation in the body of Christ, nor for leadership in the body of Christ. Why?
Simply this: because it’s not the Law that Saves us. It is the work of Jesus Christ and our faith in Christ that will save us, not the law.
Do you really think you are saved by obeying the Law? Do you think you will go to heaven because you are a “good person”? Think again! There is a right and useful place for the law, but it won’t save us from damnation. Paul says that such a person is doomed to fail – such a person is under a curse. The Holy Spirit knew that there would be people in the world who would try to get to heaven by keeping the Law. But through the evangelist James points out that being a good person isn’t enough.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
Even if we only make one little mistake in our life, we are still under that curse of sin and eternal death.
Thus, it does us no good to determine who is inside and outside God’s justification. It’s not up to us anyway.
Everything is dependent upon God.
You know, not much has changed since the writing of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. There are so many ways we divide ourselves as humans: can you think of some of the ways that we create divisions among us: What are some of the ways division have separated us: