If the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians today – by Rev. Allan Reeve
Theological Reflection – Sunday June 23, 2013
Allan Reeve is a poet, father, drummer, and paddler. He works in Congregations and Communities as a catalyst for social change. The local economy is an old passion and expressive arts a new one. He blogs at alleycatwanderings.blogspot.com/
The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians from a place of Transformation. His worldview had been torn apart by a mystical revelation. Suddenly, he experienced a much larger, expansive, world-view that put the religious divisions he’d previously served into context. He now became a herald of a new world-view larger than even Jesus of Nazareth had proclaimed. His Christ-vision pulled together people from every walk of life into a day to day practice of radical generosity that was more important than the religious laws separating them.
Galatians 3:23-29 New Revised Standard Version
23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
What would Paul write today? What if his worldview was transformed by the vision of seeing the world as a small blue-green planet in an ever-expanding universe? What if he “saw” for the first time that the sacred balance that sustains life on the planet was endangered by the tribal self-interests that still divide and conquer in the name of national manifest destinies backed by religious righteousness? Might he use the same arguments in this new frame of reference? His new letter might look something like this:
Now before this “one world global reality” came, we were imprisoned and guarded under “tribal religious laws” until this “one world vision” would be revealed. Therefore, “religious laws” were our disciplinarians until we could grasp the universality of this new Christ-view, so that we might find a new discipline ordered by this “one world” reality.
Now that we have this “one world” reality in mind, we no longer can be restrained by religious traditions and disciplines that divide our efforts, for today we can see in Christ Jesus a universal message – we see that we are all God’s children through the necessities of a faith in our common human & planetary destiny – a faith that the “whole” this new cosmology presents is so much greater than the parts each religion plays.
Our religious identities; Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc.,
our ethnic identities; Greek, Roman, American, African, etc.,
our class identities; slave, free, filthy rich, desperately poor, etc.,
our gender identities; male, female, transgender etc.,
our species identities; human, reptile, insect, etc.,
all become secondary to the only identity that matters according to our new hope.
…and Paul might add these words…
We believe in the future of this planet. We have faith in the co-existence of all God’s creatures. We no longer need to claim our individual “world-views” as superior. We enter into a Sacred discovery of what it is that will sustain the wonders of our planet. Trusting in the knowledge that there is a “higher power” at work, we believe that this power is larger than any of us might name or claim as our own. In the humility that worship engages, we enter into the creative, imaginatory, work that will enable us to distribute this planet’s abundance according to the peace celebrated first as a tribal hope, then as a national hope, then as an international hope, and today as a global hope.