Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 5.14.22

By May 14, 2022Daily Bread

Good morning!

I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29 (Common English Bible)

23 Before faith came, we were guarded under the Law, locked up until faith that was coming would be revealed, 24 so that the Law became our custodian until Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith.

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian.

26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

 

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

Writing letters is almost a lost art.  Yet, it is this art that has, throughout history, had tremendous impact on individuals, families, communities, religions and even nations.  Think about letters in your life:  a letter of encouragement from your grandmother or a love letter from the person who would become your spouse.  Or think about important letters in your family:  a letter written by a great grandparent from “the old country” or a letter recognizing the valor of a family member in battle.  Or consider letters to the editor that direct the attention of a community to a need or injustice.  Or think of the letters in our nation’s history that made a tremendous impact at a pivotal time:  Albert Einstein’s 1939 letter to President Roosevelt regarding the need for a nuclear program or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Within the Christian faith, we also have letters that have had tremendous influence.  Paul’s letter to the Galatians is one of those.  From the time of its writing nearly two millennia ago down to the present, this letter has challenged the Christian communities in every age.  Paul challenges us with the radical grace of God at work in our lives and the challenge to live by faith.

Even to the casual observer, the letter to the Galatians has a different tone.  It is the only one of Paul’s letters that departs from his usual structure of Greeting, “Grace to you and peace,” followed by thanksgiving.  In Galatians, he dispenses with the Thanksgiving and moves right into his complaint:  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel…”

Paul wrote to the Galatians both angry and pained that they had turned from the message of

  • The radical grace of God
  • The faithfulness of Christ and living in that faith
  • The ways in which Christ tears down the dividing walls that separate, and
  • The true freedom found in Christ.

They had, instead, begun to listen to those who insisted that they live

  • By law rather than grace,
  • By trusting in their own righteousness, rather than the faithfulness of Christ,
  • By building walls separating those who are in and those who are out, and
  • By giving up their freedom in Christ to be enslaved to a burdensome religious system.

It is that wall-building that has been so troublesome in our past and dogs us to this day.

Paul is so exasperated, that at the beginning of this chapter he writes, “You foolish Galatians!  Who has put a spell on you?  You started out walking in the Spirit, but now you are trying to earn God’s favor by your own work.”

Today’s reading has echoed down through the ages and shaped the church for the better at critical times in its life as Paul writes of being “one in Christ Jesus.”  It seems that in every generation Christians must grapple with enlarging our vision to approach the vision of being “one in Christ Jesus.”

In the first century it was the distinction between Jews and Gentiles.  In the nineteenth century it was the issue of slavery that dogged the church until Christians came to see the evil of slavery and full meaning of being created equal.  During the past one hundred years we have wrestled—and still wrestle—with the lines we draw based on gender, race, class, immigration status, and sexual orientation.  All of these I’ve mentioned are highly divisive and politicized issues.  So, what does our faith have to say to us today?

I invite you to think about the lines we draw, the distinctions we make and what happens to those distinctions when we live in Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote, “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus.  All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:26-28, italics added)

This was a radical statement for Paul’s time.  He lists the most dramatic distinctions people were making in his day.  They were distinctions that drew the lines between who was in and who was out, between who had power and who didn’t, between those who were favored by God and those who were not.  Then, in one sentence Paul says that those distinctions are completely wiped away in Christ Jesus.

Notice how many times Paul uses the word “all.”  He seems to say all means all.

 

Hymn: “One Bread, One Body” by John B. Foley (1978)

One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man no more.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Many the gifts, many the works, one in the Lord of all.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Grain for the fields, scattered and grown, gathered to one for all.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture.  I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

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