February 01, 2006

Galatians: We Must Not Rebuild!

Paul uses demolition imagery in regards to the Law many times throughout his letters and Galatians is no exception. For Paul the very structure of Religion has been laid waste and opened up to freedom through Christ.

“For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Galatians 2:18-21

It’s as if today, peace were declared in the Middle East; the walls running the border of Palestine and Israel have been rigged with pyrotechnics and blown up. Bulldozers have come along and swept away ruins leaving freedom, openness and the beauty of God’s Creation restored in its place.

Who is Paul then, or anyone for that matter to rebuild that wall? It would only seek to prove the demolition was pointless to start off with, and once again crowd the landscape, divide the people, and obscure God’s true purpose.

For Paul, Christ has torn down the walls and buildings that divide us, from God and from man, as he states it in Ephesians:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

Ephesians 2:13-16

Rebuilding the wall would in fact, nullify Christ’s sacrifice which attained the peace that brought it down. Paul refuses to let the wall be rebuilt, not even a single block --- for even a single block can become a stumbling one. If you set out one brick you must build the whole wall, but no matter how high it is built, it will justify anyone.

In Paul’s view we must move on, we must replace our walls of security with Christ’s security, and suspend our attempts at justification in light of God’s Grace through Christ Jesus. By faith, the walls have come tumbling down.

“Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.” Isaiah 60:18

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