This is a big weekend for me. It is my first opportunity to preach in my new call at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan. I spent the day sketching through some ideas about Galatians 1:13-17, 2:11-21.
(You can download the PowerPoint here.)
Isn’t it funny how passionate and divisive we can become over something as silly as a sports team?
That’s because it feeds into a core human question…
Paul’s letter to the Galatians addresses this question.
Paul spends the opening of the letter defending his credentials.
Then he reminds the Galatians that he was even willing to stand up to Peter for the things he is about to argue.
Here is the heart of his argument.
Mary Hinkle Shore suggests that we replace the word justified with a more helpful word.
I think we can explore Paul’s argument by borrowing from Paul Hiebert’s discussion about set theory.
This is a picture of the diversity of humanity.
The bounded set creates rigid boundaries around members who are alike, thus creating an exclusive “in” and “out” group.
This is what had happened to certain parts of Judaism in Paul’s life. The “works of the Law,” namely circumcision and dietary practices clearly marked who was “in” God’s group of chosen people and who was “out.”
A centered set groups people, not by their similarity to each other, but by their orientation toward a common center. The church, Paul would argue, is not unified around the the works of the Law, but around the faith of Jesus Christ and the love of God.
The good news of Jesus is that we have been set free from Sin and Death so that we can freely love others as God has loved us.
The love of God revealed through Jesus embraces the entire world. God patiently waits, even for those who are not oriented toward the way of Jesus. The church is called to invite the world to experience this liberating Good News through Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.