Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Daily Devotion for Lent 2021 - Day 6

Scripture Reading: Galatians 1 (NRSV)

If we were to begin to blindly read Galatians without any foreknowledge of the controversy present in the early church, we might be scratching our heads and wondering where all the drama was coming from!

Paul feels that he must start with an immediate defense of his credentials.  We get the sense that there have been people slandering Paul to these churches of Galatia.  He lets them know that he means business with the image of an angelic messenger presenting a different message and becoming accursed for it!

While he doesn't state it yet, Paul is prioritizing Jesus Christ over circumcision as the sign of God's favor.

Of course, circumcision was not a practice among Gentile males and could be seen as a stumbling block for growing the church.  But it was also a deal breaker for Jews of that day and time.

Paul's own passion about the subject is evident in his reminder that he sought to destroy the early church.  

After Paul is converted, he doesn't go immediately to Jerusalem where the church headquarters were located.  Only after three years of activity does he confer with Peter (Cephas) and the brother of Jesus, James the Just.  

He relates this to show his independence from Jerusalem.

Could we do more to prioritize
Christ in our lives today?
Paul has prioritized Christ and he is unwilling to debate the matter.  In his mind, even if those that would have a greater claim on Jesus through greater proximity of relationship (such as a disciple or a biological brother) - if they would dilute the gospel message, they would be wrong.

He is convinced of the lawfulness of his own theology and is willing to stand up to anyone to proclaim it.  He wants the Galatians to be convinced as well.

Have you ever been convinced of something in your bones and had people tell you that you were wrong?  It can be very frustrating and people can get violent over such passion.

Paul is zealous over as many coming to know Christ as possible.  This is a zealousness that eclipses his previous urgency for the Law.  

If we were to prioritize Christ for people today with similar passion, are there stumbling blocks that the current generation would claim Christians put in their path?

Prayer for the day:

Eternal God, we seek to love you, do your will and follow your commandments.  But we also believe that you are trying to reach others - and probably through our actions.  Help us to look long at what we do and say.  Lead us to discover if our priorities line up with yours.  And where we have grown too hard-headed to consider alternatives, give us new eyes to see.  We pray these things in Christ.  Amen.

Photo by David Smith via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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