Reading Galatians with my kids this morning I was struck at how little our world has changed, or learned, or progressed since the time of Jesus and Paul. All our various subjects seemed to align today with a message that I just feel pushed to share.
Paul writes that we must not allow ourselves to become “enslaved to so-called gods that have nothing of the divine about them….For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years.” (Gal. 4:8,10 The Message)
A wide range of religions practiced in the past and today have these “scrupulous observance of traditions” do they not? Many government systems, many cultures, now and in the past have tied their people’s hands with tradition, so much so that they cannot see beyond them to the Christ-based truth.
Paul warns the Galatians that “These heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important.”
We discussed Communist Russia this week. Through our literature reading and culture studies, we again can see the fear mongering that becomes rampant in a society where suspicion is everywhere and one fears to speak against the political flow for fear they too will be arrested, persecuted or killed. We see a leader’s need for a dependent population, making the public feel that what is being done to them is in their own best interests, when clearly it is not.
Today, we often fear standing firm in our beliefs, standing up for our right to disagree. We allow ourselves to be intimidated, stifled, silenced, shut down for fear of retaliation or retribution of some sort. I rarely post my political thoughts on social media, for fear of being attacked, laughed at, or beginning a heated debate between my liberal and conservative friends.
How is this living in the freedom Christ promises again and again? How is it living in faith that He protects His people?
I am not an overly political person, nor do I typically follow a lot of current events. But this week has me scared. Scared for the future for my kids. Scared for the future for our country and our freedom. We cannot blind ourselves and think it is just a war across the ocean anymore; it is changing our lives, bit by bit, as fear creeps into our daily activities and actions, and into the actions of our political leaders.
We are afraid. Afraid to let our guards down and share our true thoughts. Afraid of being compassionate and helping a stranger on the street, or a refugee into the country. Afraid of letting our kids walk to the bus stop without us. Afraid of leaving the house without a phone in case of emergency. Fear rules our daily choices, it governs our lives. They are winning. Like it or not, we are their slaves.
Paul tells the Galatians (Gal 5:1, 2, 4), “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery (or fear) on you. The moment any one of you submits to… any rule-keeping systems, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace.”
Time has not changed this eternal, internal battle. Paul reminds us this by repeating the story of Abraham. One small act by a man tired of waiting for his personal promise from God to come true, still has consequences for my children today, as it has for all the generations from then until now.
The question is, while living in this modern age, an age of repeating history, and age of terrorism and fear, are we able to wait patiently in faith for the promises God has given to each of us? To not get impatient and force his hand by making rash choices and quick decisions? To stand firm in the faith that God has promised good to us, and that He will bring that promise to fruition?
Can our leaders, and all the leaders of the world, take time to think, to study, to learn, (to pray?) on what will be the right move? Can they allow themselves to not be harassed by the media into giving a quick sound bite answer, that they then feel bound to, for fear of looking dishonest? Can they make a choice today, and then confidently decide to change it tomorrow without being raked across the media’s coals? This is serious stuff!
We need to support the leaders, and pray for them, not do our best to tear them down. God sets rulers on the throne (or in the Oval Office). Our job is to support, uphold and pray fervently that they make wise decisions for us– both for right now and for future generations.
Fear gets us nowhere. Hate makes us bitter. The evil ones may have success for a time, but remember folks, we know the ending. It’s right there for all to read in Revelation (& Psalms & Isaiah & really, all over the Bible).
In case you haven’t read it yet…God wins in the end.
Can you live in faith, not fear, knowing the outcome? Can I? I believe He has promised good to me, but remembering that in the day-to-day decisions and moments of fear is tough. I work daily at living in faith and in the knowledge of His grace.
I encourage you to read Galatians 4 & 5 as a whole. There is much other to be gleaned from Paul’s words, that I cannot put into words. History repeats itself again and again. This is why we study it, or should. But when we are ignorant to the truth, miss the parallels, and refuse to see the comparisons, we only have ourselves to blame for the outcome.