Summary: Are you happy with the family you grew up with? Chances are you aren't and that even now your vision of family is tainted. But what if you could have the perfect family and perfect relationships? Believe it or not, it is possible, with a family you have b
Today as we venture through the last verses of Chapter 3 and into Chapter 4, Paul reminds us that we have a new family relationship—different than what we came from, and that in this family
How you relate to your family of origin can affect how you relate to the family of God that you have been adopted into. Some of us had fathers who were distant and cold, and so God often feels hard to reach or relate to in a personal way. Some of us had fathers who were harsh or abusive or very broken—and it makes it hard to understand how God loves us. That’s where we begin in Galatians today, at the end of Chapter 3 as Paul is trying to help these people understand the fundamental change that occurred when they came to faith, trust, and reliance in Jesus Christ. They got a new family and a totally different kind of relationship with Father God—a relationship that makes it so that past family dysfunction and past efforts to attain love and goodness can begin to melt away in the presence of pure love.
Paul has been talking about growing up in terms of no longer needing the Law to guide us or guard us—but now we have the One who completed the Law and completes it in us. When we come into relationship with Him we are often baptized as an outward sign of an inward faith.
Paul uses the expression “put on Christ.” In the Roman culture a young person would lay aside their “robe of childhood” for a new robe that signaled they had reached adulthood. So now, Jesus’ attitudes and mindset become ours. The more we know Him the more we will think like Him—and then actions follow the thoughts and our will. It does take more responsibility. No more do we follow rules and regulations, now we have an active relationship that should permeate our being.
There were real walls that separated Jew from others. Some Jewish men even woke up each morning and prayed “Lord I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Jesus is the great equalizer. We are still unique in Christ, but we are completely and totally equal. Cultural/economic and even gender issues are meaningless when it comes to our standing before Christ. Just saying that the barriers are put aside doesn’t make it so. It is only as we continue to grow into Christ’s clothes that the default human thinking of inequality is changed.
Legalism also separates. It stratifies us into groups—either because we feel better than others who aren’t as “holy” or those that feel bad because they can’t seem to be as “holy” as others appear around them. But Jesus also levels the playing field when we realize He is the only reason we having standing before God and it is His righteous life that we now live.
We are sons of God, have put on Christ, and are one in Christ. We are also “Abraham’s seed” and “heirs”. The Jews felt they were automatically “saved” because they were Abraham’s seed. Paul tells the Galatians that to become spiritual children of Abraham you believe what God promised, not perform a rite of circumcision or become a Jew. We now inherit God’s eternal kingdom. Awesome!
4:1 – 2
Before children in the Roman society “came of age” they were no better off than slaves—future owners of everything but until then under rules and discipline. The father in Roman times determined when the child was mature enough to be considered an adult. Until then he used “guardians” – overseers of the child (different word than Chapter 3) and “stewards” – those that watched over the estate. So it was up to the Father to determine when to bring us from “immaturity” under the law to “maturity” in Christ.
Prior to coming to Christ, Paul says, we are like “children” and subject to something called “elemental forces of the world.” There are several interpretations of what this means. Some suggest it is the Law of Moses, others the four basic elements of Greek philosophy (earth, air, fire, water). But the one that seems to make sense is that it refers to attempts to earn salvation through some sort of activity. Most of the Galatians were not Jews but pagans so they would not have come from the Law of Moses as a background.
I think most people are aware of a lack in their life that they try to fill in some way. Our feeble attempts to make sense of the world and our place in it constitute these “elemental” forces. The more we try to better ourselves or find fulfillment in something other than through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the more enslaved to that “force” we become because it can never really work. It could be pleasure, or security through money or power, physical prowess, philosophical or intellectual order—or any number of religious acts of piety.