Mountain Top, Lord’s Table
messages from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, a letter that has “freedom” as a
theme word. Paul is convinced that a distorted and weakened version of the
gospel has threatened their freedom as the people of God.
he is “distressed”, to put it mildly. His letters often begin with a
celebration of his relationship with the church, their shared struggles, the
great news he is hearing. But not
here. He dives right in: “I am astonished
that you are so quickly deserting” (1.6).
Paul typically dictates to a secretary, perhaps because of a vision
impairment. But not here, he has to
write, and now, no matter that he doesn’t have a secretary available. He writes, in 6.11, “See what large letters I
make when I am writing in my own hand!”
relationship with “Law”
as Torah, broadly understood
as sacrificial system (replaced by Jesus offering of self)
as accurate moral guidance (not in dispute)
as a path to righteousness
are you now ending with the flesh?” (3.3)
as a boundary to inclusion in God’s family
Gentiles and Jews share the same table?
to define rules and exclude persons on that basis
touch on it, and focus on the human/social experience
or God’s approval? Or am I trying to
please people? If I were still pleasing
people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (1.10).
much more broad
do you want to eat?”
ones we love
truth in love (Ephesians 4.15)
identity or integrity traps?
so fast … we’re people.
to live to please One
that One is already pleased with us!
beloved, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1.11)
fable that I read years ago. I can’t
remember where it comes from, so if you know, please tell me.
father and son are going on a journey and taking the family donkey. The son rides the donkey and the father leads
the beast. They go through a town and
hear people muttering, “Why is that strong kid riding the donkey while the
older man is walking? That’s just
father and son switch. The father rides,
the son leads. In the next town they
hear people muttering, “Why does that man make his son walk when he is quite
capable of walking? That’s plain mean.”
father and son both ride the donkey. In
the next town, they hear people muttering, “Why do both of them ride that old
broken down beast? They are going to
drive it to the grave! That’s abusive.”
certain what to do next, the father and son resolve to carry the donkey. They are strong enough, but the donkey just
isn’t accustomed to being carried. While
they are crossing a bridge, the donkey squirms, they lose their grip, and the
donkey falls into the chasm below.
moral of the tale: If you spend all your time pleasing people, sooner or later
you’re going to lose your . . . donkey.
to say than to live. The theological truth is that we die in Christ and rise to
a new life, that we die to slavery and rise to freedom. As a practical matter, however, a death to the
slavery of people pleasing means that we love Jesus first. “The only thing that
counts is faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). As we love Jesus first,
we’ll have the integrity, wisdom, and compassion, to say “no” to people
pleasing, to live into that Life that lies ahead for us, and to explain our
choices to people who are used to the “Old Me”.
“I’m sorry that I am unable to please you right now. I still love you, and I love Jesus first.”
when it comes to pleasing ourselves, to what folks call the “duty to self”
ethic, we are faced again with this Table, and with Christ crucified. We are invited to be “crucified with Christ”. And, we are given the assurance that the
Jesus who loves us first will care for the things that truly matter.