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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 26, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Galatians 3:6–14

Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (NRSV)

Quite often when reading a passage of scripture like this one I simply want to “pass.” I find the language so obscure, the concepts seeming so irrelevant to my life, the world to which it is addressed completely out of our twenty-first-century context. This passage’s points are loaded with issues that hold many flare points: circumcision for starters; the curse that holds humanity in the throes of pain and separation; the law that becomes a weapon rather than liberation.

But this passage, which on first blush seemed so riddled with complications, also has an arrestingly simple message. Like a banner flying over the door of the heart the message is that God lavishly bestows grace upon us, that we are loved, cherished, and flooded with it. And though the early church, to whom this letter is addressed, got swept up by some folks who tried to set up some special categories to complicate this gift, the word is that there aren’t any. Nope, none. And what is even more amazing is that when the flood of grace saturates us, we make our move with either quiet joy or reckless confidence, venturing out and living as if the only way to engage this world is with a love that knows no bounds.

The power of Jesus’ ministry, his death, and his resurrection is that those who encountered him were invited to the party with no strings attached. There were no categories, no qualifications, no hoops to jump through in order to be right up front as the honored guest. No one because of their nationality, their religious commitments, their gender, their wealth or poverty was pushed away. And today all are welcome and standing face-to-face with Jesus. One look at his face with its pure exquisite love for us and we find ourselves swimming in the pools of grace each and every day, propelled to love this world and all its inhabitants with unbounded grace, reckless confidence, and quiet joy.

Thank you that in knowing Jesus our hearts sing with untold joy and we are able to love with abandon, O God. Help us this day to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, every step of the way. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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