Monday, June 22, 2009

Grace Anatomy

So we started this new series on Sunday walking through the high points of Paul's letter to the Galatians. I've enjoyed the experience although admit to a little frustration with the whole industry of publication and speculation around some of the core concepts. Anyways, this post is not about that.

What captured me most, was the genius of grace. God is really quite perverse when it comes right down to it. He undermines those core human defaults that drive us to negotiate/mediate Him through ultimately dysfunctional lenses. I think if I'd remained an atheist I would nevertheless have retained a grudging admiration for the elegance of the properly understood Christian paradigm. A bit like Antony Flews (former atheist and now deist) has expressed admiration for NT Wright's work in describing the resurrection.

Its so counter intuitive to express this kind of view. Grace. Unmerited favour. God's elegant solution for the problem of human pride (read independence, bloodymindedness, the Fall, legalism etc etc). No Karma. No coming back as a slug.

Some of things that stuck out for me from the first chunk of Galatians:

  • Paul in his zeal for persecuting the church wasn't looking for a change in job description when God showed up on the road to Damascus - underlines the initiating activity of grace

  • Paul's gospel, like Jesus', was fundamentally one of inclusion - the definition of "the people of God" had changed to reflect the fullest expression of the Abrahamic covenant

  • I know people like to get tangled up in whether "faith in Christ" = the "faithfulness of Christ" and its a good discussion to have in the (w)right context. But whatever the reading, I don't think there is any doubt that Christ's faithfulness is expressed through His death and resurrection. It takes just a little faith from us to believe and trust in the fact of Christ's death; it took a whole lot more faith for Jesus to go along with that...

  • Abraham's faith - belief and trust in God was credited to him as righteousness - I've never wondered before what Jesus faith meant? I suppose he didn't need any extra credit.

  • It doesn't really matter what the nuance of the justification picture is as to whether its "not guilty" or "innocent", the key is that we walk free. Which is the whole point of Galatians. Walk free.

Anyways, it was good to dip into this letter and I only wish I was able to be more involved in this series than my leave will allow!


Glen O'Brien said...

Hi Brett. Just wanted to let you know I'm finally back in the blogosphere again after a prolonged absence. As one of my formerly loyal readers maybe I can win you back. Good post on grace by the way. I preached a sermon series on Galatians one year. Great stuff. (The book I mean not the sermons. But they were OK too...)

BJ said...

Hi Glen - will be back to view! Thanks for encouragement...