Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
There is a beautiful passage in our bible that was written by a man named Paul to a group of Jesus followers in the ancient region of Galatia, which is located in the modern day country of Turkey. The letter is called “Paul’s Letter to the Galatians”. If you haven’t ever read it or studied it, it’s one of the best parts of the New Testament. You can find the whole book of Galatians online HERE (and in several different languages and translations).
The Christians in Galatia were struggling to follow Jesus because they felt the need to add on to what they had been taught about Jesus. Many of them wanted to bring in rules and laws from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, which would have made becoming a “true” Jesus follower more about doing certain things in order to be a part of the “in” group.
However, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul tells them this is a mistake, saying, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” (Galatians 1:6) For Paul, the only thing that mattered was the loving grace of God, through Jesus, and our faith in that grace. If there were rules and stipulations of things one needed to do or believe beyond that, Paul has one of his harshest statements and says, “let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:9) YIKES!
Where does Paul get this idea that, other than having faith in God’s loving grace, there’s no need to add extra things to what it means to be a part of God’s eternal kingdom? You may be shocked but I think Paul gets this idea from Jesus.
Yeah, that guy. ↑
One of Jesus’ most well known parables is The Good Samaritan (Luke 10). You know the story. A man is robbed, stripped, beaten, and left “half-dead” on the side of the road. Two people pass him by, a priest and a Levite – both holy and full-time religious people – and do not help him. But a man from Samaria does help him. And Jesus says that this man is the one who is doing what is necessary to achieve eternal life.
Hold on, Paul says we don’t need extra stuff to participate in God’s eternity, just grace by faith. But Jesus tells the story of doing something extra. Are these two disagreeing? Hardly…
The two people who passed by and did not love their neighbor were full-time religious and holy people. They believed that coming into contacted with a naked, bloody, and “half-dead” person would make them UNCLEAN, and not fit to worship in God’s Temple in Jerusalem. They were holding to a way of understanding God that had extra stuff in place: rules, laws, interpretations, etc.
Jesus tells the parable not merely as a way to invite us to help our fellow human beings when they are in need, but also as a means of saying, “don’t let your rules and interpretations become barriers to loving your neighbor, or, by extension, to loving God.”
Here at the STYG, our desire is to follow Jesus. Period. We’ve got many ways that students can be a part of a community that strives to be a place to practice, learn, and grow in the Way of Jesus. There’s D-Groups on Wednesday evenings, Film School on Sunday mornings, Youth Group on Sunday afternoons/evenings, opportunities to take a Love Journey, as well as a place to Sign Up For Stuff like retreats, camps, etc. Please check out the menus on the top and side of this page to see what we’re up to.
peace to you