“IT IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE” D.Caudery
What heart felt meditations are prompted by the out-pouring of Paul’s heart in his letter to the Galatians which we started reading today!? What is the complete foundation on which our faith is built? Part of the foundation is the correct understanding of God’s word: but we must read it with, what we should call, a ‘heart-searching’ mind to make sure we grasp its’ true and full meaning: to simply develop an intellectual understanding is quite inadequate. O yes, this is important, vital in fact, but if that is all it is – isn’t it like standing on ‘one leg’ – and looking for crutches to keep us upright!?
. Paul told the Galatians, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ.” [1 v.6,7] We notice the word “grace” – the full meaning and application of which is outside the concept of an intellectual understanding.
Paul is emphatic as to how important it is that the original gospel is maintained. He adds, “…. Even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” [v.8] The potential for some to corrupt the original gospel is a fundamental reason why we need to constantly read God’s word every day – so that the original message becomes fully integrated into our thinking. Along with this is a full appreciation of the “Grace … and peace…” [v.3] – meaningful words which Paul uses at the start of all his letters.
Why do some turn away from that which is true? There is an interesting example in the chapter we read today in Numbers. Ch. 16 tells us how some of the Levites challenged the leadership of Moses saying to him; “you have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves … “. Added to this is their complaint is, “you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards.” [v.14]
Their minds were focussed on positions of prestige and material rewards, but such will only come in God’s good time – in his kingdom. They had a false impression of what it is – in God’s sight – to be holy. We are reminded of the principle spelled out in a verse in Hebrews “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord”. [12 v.14]
Turning to Galatians again, there is one key verse that we do well to memorise, for it sums up both Paul’s and Moses’ attitude to things divine. “I have been crucified with Christ,” writes Paul, ”It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [2 v.20] Finally let us meditate on what Paul told the Thessalonians, that “I … give you an example to imitate” [2 Thess. 3 v.9] let us do that in our relations with each other – showing that ‘Christ lives in us.’