Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia is an urgent plea for the centrality of the gospel in all of life (Galatians 1:6-8). Jesus plus anything else is a false gospel (2:3-6). Though our situation is different, the urgency and importance of this message still rings true.
At the beginning of this letter, Paul says that Jesus has rescued us from “the present evil age” (1:4). That is the old world, the world of fallen humanity. Then at the end of the letter he says that Jesus has ushered in “new creation” (6:15). That’s what is at stake: Two worlds, two ways of relating to God, two ways of defining yourself, two ways of living life.
We spent three months as a church working through this letter in sermons, small group discussions, and Bible studies. We wrestled with the context in Galatia and how it connects to our own day (e.g. 2:11-14). We too are “prone to wander,” as the old hymn says. We seek assurance and belonging and righteousness apart from Christ, through various kinds of law-keeping and boundary markers and self-justification (2:17-21). We all have a tendency to live according to the values and systems of the old world.
This letter called us back, over and over, to the foundation of the gospel, our unity in Christ, and our new life in the Spirit. Now that we are free from the old system of seeking glory from one another, we are free to love one another as God has loved us in Christ. That is the true fulfillment of the law. That is new creation. In our terminology, that is the centrality of the gospel in all of life. (1:11-12; 2:17-21; 3:1-3, 27-28; 5: 13-14, 25; 6:14-15).
This collection of devotionals, written by members of our church, expresses the profound and far-reaching implications of these themes. They were written in real time, two a week, as we made our way through the sermon series. They offer unique insight into the text itself, and also provide a rich variety of personal experience and wisdom.
This work represents the diversity, creativity, and beauty of our church. In that way, it is a celebration of the freedom that is at stake in this letter. Because of Jesus, we are free to serve one another in love, and to celebrate every evidence of grace in anyone’s life. This is our mission as church: to help each other believe and apply the gospel in every area of life. “For all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them (6:16).