It's All About Christ!
Gal. 2:15 ¶ We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;
Gal. 2:16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.
Gal. 2:17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
Gal. 2:18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.
Gal. 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ;
Gal. 2:20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is 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.
There was a great struggle in the early church regarding the rules. Whose rules were they going to follow? Peter was preaching to the Jews but Paul was preaching to the Gentiles. They had been raised in very different ways and their perspectives on the Christian life were different. They had to really dig down deep and ask the question as to whether they were following Christ, or were they following customs. Sometimes it's hard for us to distinguish between the two because we allow them to become so intertwined. The result was that people were being caught up in the law and it was clouding their ability to truly see Christ. At the end of the day it was faith in Jesus Christ, not in the law that would bring salvation. This is where Paul realizes that identification with Christ and him alone is at the core of the Christian faith. He no longer wants to live for the law, but wants to live for God and he declares, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." It is then that we realize that we must look to the life of Christ as our example and not to the law. Our faith is to be in Christ, and in him alone!
Stripping away the things of the world and having faith in Jesus Christ alone is pretty radical. Imagine the pressures to live a certain way or to do certain things that the early apostles faced. They were rejected in many Jewish synagogues for this preaching about Christ was more than most people could take. He sounded a little unbalanced! He wanted his followers to believe in a heavenly kingdom and to serve that kingdom. He wanted them to get their eyes off of changes to the earthly kingdom and instead to follow him and to serve him. He wanted them to serve the poor. He wanted them to peacefully respond when the world was fighting around them. He wanted them to love him and to love their neighbor above themselves. He wanted them to imitate him. He wanted them to be a reflection of him to the world each and every single day.
And Jesus' desire for his followers hasn't changed. If we were to strip away everything that we have placed on top of our understanding of Christianity and get down to Christ alone, what would our faith look like? Are we a reflection of Jesus to the world, or are we a reflection of our beliefs about Christ to the world? There is a big difference for often we create our own level of understanding about Christ. We think we are being a reflection of him, but we are actually reflecting a message to the world that is far different than the real Christ. Our reflection is clouded with the layers upon layers that we have created within the earthly community of faith. Our world is hungry for Jesus. They want and need him desperately. I know I need the Lord to search my heart, my life, my actions and my motives to help me be a genuine reflection of him. May there be nothing in the way that distorts the reflection of Christ in my life!
Lord, search my heart and my life and please help me to put you on in my life and be a genuine reflection of you to the world. Amen.