The Scripture Reading for this week is: Galatians 3:1-9, 23-29
The Sermon title is Freed
Early Thoughts: We often proclaim that God offers us freedom. Marcus Borg suggests that one of the meta-narratives of Scripture is that of the exodus, the freedom from bondage, and another meta-narrative is that of exile and return (which also has a flavour of freedom about it).
But freed from what? Freed to what?
For Paul freed from the law, freed from the bondage of sin would be a big part of what being in Christ means. Paul spends much time in his letters trying to determine the role of law and grace in the Christian life. In the end he comes down firmly on the side of grace, God's grace that brings freedom. And so we are freed from those things that once bound us, which includes status words like Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.
It appears that the Galatian church, after being founded by Paul, was visited by a person or group of people who tried to convince the Galatians that they needed to follow Torah in order to be full members of the Christian community. Paul finds this a terrible idea (to put it mildly). In this week's passage Paul suggests that the law did once have a purpose but now it no longer does. The law was needed to shepherd God's people along until the coming of Christ (who is often called the Good Shepherd, following from the Gospel of John). But now that Christ has come (and more importantly for Paul, now that Christ has been crucified and raised) the law is not needed. We are freed from the (in Paul's eyes unattainable) standard that the law places on people.
Christians continue to maintain that Christ sets us free. In the forgiveness Christ preached (or offered) we are freed from the burden of guilt and shame. In the (freely offered, not earned by our actions) gift of the Holy Spirit that flowed from and through Christ we are freed to a life of where God is active in and through us. We can put the ways of the past aside and live into the new thing God is now doing.
Sometimes we in the church want to replace the old law with a new one. I think Paul might suggest that this is just exchanging one chain for another. Are we ready to be free?