I’ve probably shared this before; forgive me. A number of years ago, I was in a bible study. In it was a woman who said, “I don’t believe in the God of the Old Testament, only the New One. Only the God of the New Testament is a God of Love.”
Our study leaders were not the most theologically conservative. Even so, they quickly (and gently) corrected her. Yet, I know many people like her who were raised with the “hellfire and brimstone” type of sermons and teachings which predominately used the Old Testament to cause people to be terrified of God.
The Jews of Paul’s time weren’t so much afraid of God as they were not following the rules. The rules were the source of fear alongside the religious leaders who instilled fear.
This same affliction has been part of the church for generations. People followed rules because they could “safely” belong following the rules. Of course, that does not mean they understood the rationale behind the rules, or believed it.
Rules can be good and beneficial. Having an understanding of eternal consequences of decisions is also good. When they become the religion or “proof”, they will often defy our relationship with God.
The biggest victim in that situation is grace. People like the woman in the story, or those who experienced hellfire & brimstone sermons often become unable to see God’s grace. That inability to see God’s grace then becomes the inability to see God’s love.
Paul’s words to the Galatians were to remind them that they had God’s grace. To put an exaggerated point on it, he was telling them that they traded a city of gold for a rotten turnip. They embraced the rotten turnip, and dumped the city of gold.
There is, of course, the danger of developing in such a way of living needing grace that the way of living leads you to slavery. However, willfully (or ignorantly) skipping out on grace may be far worse.
Being grace-filled is counter-cultural. It has been for quite some time. Being grace-filled is not being a doormat, it is giving people what they don’t deserve…God’s love.Read the scriptures for this devotional on BibleGateway.com
- If you were asked to live out your faith in grace, what would that look like?
- How does living out grace work with those with whom you disagree?
- If you were to choose grace or rules, which would it be? Which does your life display?
Lord, let your grace flow in, through, and out of us more and more. Amen.