Summary: When we're tempted to focus on lesser things than the cross of Christ, Paul's closing argument in Galatians is a helpful reality check.
Yesterday 15 of us from this church gathered to pray and then to go out into the community. 12 in total went out and 3 stayed back both to pray for the teams that went out and to prepare a remarkably yummy lunch for the team on its return. We went out in teams of 2, and we went out for one reason. The people of Church at the Mission care about this neighbourhood. We love this community.
We identify with it. Some of us have been coming to church here for a really long time. Some are pretty new to things. Some of us live near here or use to live near here.
My family lived 5 minutes from here for 11 years until we moved in 2004. But my heart is always here. I know others feel similarly.
So the team yesterday went out to connect with people, to pray as we walked…for blessing and for peace in the community.
We went out also door to door to invite people to the special event, the service and BBQ next Sunday. We shared that our church recently produced the short film: God’s iPod”, hoping that folks would take a look at it.
People were very, very open to conversation. And a lot of people said they’d be joining us next week. One gentleman prayed and asked Jesus into his life. What a gift!
And each of us who was part of the outreach yesterday felt that what happened was truly significant, that it truly mattered. It matters that we connect with others. It matters that we share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Among all the other things that truly do matter, being the church, the body of Christ out in the community rates very, very high.
There will be lots of other opportunities in the future for more of us, if we choose, to be involved in reaching out to the community.
We exist as a church not for ourselves. We’re here not to receive, receive, receive from God. We’re here to be blessed, and to share that blessing with the community.
We’re here for others. And God has placed us here in Cabbagetown, Regent Park and St. Jamestown for a reason. We are in the midst of a mission field. That really, truly matters.
For Paul, that most fascinating and complex and passionate of the apostles, what mattered to him the most was…what? If you’ve been here this summer much you’ve heard a bunch of sermons on the book of Galatians.
Let’s review a bit. So…did following the law strictly matter to Paul? Did obeying rituals matters to Paul? Did circumcision, that outward sign of the covenant between God and His people, matter to God?
No. Our Scripture passage today enlightens us as to what truly mattered the most to Paul. Let’s turn to Galatians 6:11-18 (page 1816 in pew Bibles)
Gal 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. 17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Gal 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Occasionally Paul inserts a quirky note like what we see in verse 11 here. Paul’s practice, as was Peter’s, was to have a trusted scribe write down his letters as he spoke them.
Once in a while he would pick up the pen or quill and jot down a note. Here he seems surprised that his own handwriting is a lot larger than his scribe’. I love little human elements like this that pop up in God’s Word occasionally.
Paul sums up his argument in Galatians here by exposing again the motives of his opponents, heretics in the Galatian church. What, by the way, is a heretic? [Someone within the church who holds to beliefs that are not consistent with Scripture].