26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
We have spent two weeks looking at Galatians now and seen the problems that arose from those who do not accept that the cross is enough for salvation and how that the problems were addressed by Paul and how we can apply his thinking to today. We have seen how we have to be strong in our faith to answer those who seek to tell us how we should express and live out our faith and how the changing times are in God’s hands. Today, we are going to continue in our tour of Galatians and chapters 3 & 4, don’t worry we are not going to read both chapters, but they deal with the subject of how we are heirs to the promise given to Abraham when God told him that his seed would be given the land (Genesis 12:7). I want to read chapter 3 to you but before I do I want you to understand how these letters were written. Paul very often dictated his letters and added a few final paragraphs in his own hand, so the writing was done by someone else, in much the same way as letters are dictated to secretaries today. I sometimes wish that I could dictate my sermons as when I get into the ‘inspiration groove’, when the words are flowing through me from God. I can sit at the desk or in the garden or in the street, wherever and the words come and I want someone to be there to write it down because when I get home and type, the feeling and flow are not quite as intense as they were previously, and something seems to be missing. But Paul was allowed to put his feelings into his letters without the restriction of having to write the words down himself and, for me, it is important to read Paul with emotion.
Read chapter 3
Paul has spent a long time telling the church in Galatia why they should not listen to those who were twisting the gospel, now he has a go at them directly for not sticking to what they knew to be true. Some of the fault lay with the Judaisers, but some of the fault also lay with the Galatians themselves and here Paul lays it on the line with the words ‘you foolish Galatians’. He then goes on to remind them that what God started, only God could finish. Abraham is shown as a man of faith and was seen as righteous before God, 430 years before the law was given to Moses. Paul then takes the Galatians through a process to show that those who believe in Christ are the heirs that Abraham was promised. What a promise to think about when we have been looking at homelessness. The DVD we saw earlier showed people who had come to Cedar house for refuge and help and how those who were there felt safe, secure. There are many people living on the streets today, lost confused, empty, sad, scratching a survival any way that they can. There are a minority, and this can be hard for us to get our heads around, who like street life; the freedom that they have to go where they want, when they want – but the vast majority want a ‘normal’ life.
There are many, many people who are spiritually homeless; lost, confused, empty and sad. These people think that they have no place of safety to go to, no where for them to find meaning to their lives, no where that they can feel safe and secure, where they can find themselves and belong. This is where the promise takes on such a powerful meaning. Believe in Christ and you become heir to the promise given to Abraham. Believe in Christ and you find that in him there is safety, an end to spiritual confusion, emptiness, you find security and a meaning to your life that shows you who you are, that helps you be the best that you can be. Believe in Christ and you belong and that knowledge will be with you and will be a rock for you anchor yourself to no matter what happens.
But it is not just those who are on the streets that are homeless, there are also the ‘hidden’ homeless, those who are sleeping on a friends floor for a few nights at a time and then going to another friend, those who have no place to call home and depend on others to help. When I was growing up, I left home for a short time, because I felt that I didn’t belong, that I was a part of the furniture and no one would miss me if I wasn’t around; how wrong I was. I was missed, wanted, needed, but it took something drastic to make me see that. How many people come to church and feel that they would not be missed if they were not at the meetings? I wonder if there are those who are part of God’s family who feel on the outside? It’s not a nice thought, but is there anyone here who feels that. The promise given to Abraham is also for you, you are a part of God’s family and you are an heir and an important son or daughter, make no mistake about that. No one needs to be spiritually homeless, hidden or obvious, unless they choose to be. The cross is available to all, the invitation is to everyone, if you need to will you accept it? I am going to play a song called ‘the invitation’ – Steven Curtis Chapman and it tells of the offer to each of us to enter into God’s home so that we can belong to the promise given to Abraham and to God’s family. After it has played, I’d like us to be quiet for a moment or two and then Annette will pray and if you are longing to feel at home, to be understood, to lose that emptiness then meet with Christ this morning. We have a mercy seat here that is a place of grace, a place to meet with Christ, a place to accept the invitation, a place to be upheld in prayer. Is it a place that you need to come to today?