Scripture: Galatians 2:15-21
The life of the early church was dealing with a great problem. That problem was over the common meal shared by all members who gathered. The food was provided by pooling whatever one had to share with the others. All were invited, including Jews and Gentiles, rich people and poor people, and slaves and free people. This meal was probably the only full and decent meal that many had all week.
Paul stated that the young Christian church could not continue if certain members of the church were excluded. The church is for all people, and we all are are one in the sight of God. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, rich nor poor, slave nor free person.
Paul saw that the strenuous actions were necessary to combat this practice, for the Love of God was for all people. Simultaneously, he saw elements within this common meal beginning to separate and divide the membership of the church. The Jews had many types of “kosher” food laws that governed their meals. There were also definitions as to what was clean and unclean, and the Gentiles themselves were considered unclean and many Jews did not accept them. For a Jew, eating pork was considered sinful.
Yet the scriptures state that nothing one put into their mouth and passes through their body can defile them. Only that which he speaks that is harmful to his witness to the Gentiles. Paul states that no amount of observing strict laws can make a person right with God! A person cannot earn their righteousness. They must accept the gracious offer of the love of God that makes a person right with God. This was a concept that Jesus tried to get across to the people of the early church.
That concept still plagues mankind today! There are still people in the church who still believe their works "have merit with the Lord."
Jesus was saying that by simply holding on to the law one cannot wipe out their sinful nature. The old practices must pass away, for this is a new day. All people are permitted to come to the Lord for forgiveness of their sins, for His gracious salvation is offered to all.
There are 2 great temptations that all Christians must come to grip with:
- There is a temptation to try to earn God’s favor. That is an unhealthy reason for volunteering to do something for the church.
- There is a temptation to judge our actions as superior to someone else’s to curry God’s favor.
In reality, it is only through the grace of God that any one of us will see our Lord face-to-face in the heavenly kingdom. If you or I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to find us guilty?
Let us pray!