Sara and I just returned from Pismo Beach (left), our special get-away spot on the California Coast. It was only three days, but it was the only all-alone time we’ve been able to find this summer and Sara goes back to work on Monday. So it was a bit late and way too short, but we had three uninterrupted days together, which were awesome! I’m now putting the finishing touches on a new BodyLife that will be out Monday if all goes well.
On Tuesday night our Galatians group stumbled across a wonderful quote. In answer to the question of what purpose the law had if it was unable to make us perfect, Paul answered:
Most people read Galatians, thinking Judaism was the problem. I think Eugene Peterson gets it exactly right through out his whole translation. Judaism wasn’t the problem, religion was. Any system of rules and obligations will not produce the life of God because it depends on human response, not God’s action in response to his promise
So why isn’t that obvious to everyone?
In our day religious systems proliferate like horny rats. People just get out of one and start looking for another. When that one disappoints yet again they look for another. And seemingly there is no end of people willing to devise them thinking that they have finally stumbled on the system that will better all other systems. I’ve been on that road. It’s crazy. Paul is right, not one of them can create the life of God.
I love the conclusion one brother made in an email that will appear in the new issue of BodyLife:
It’s not that some of those things can’t be useful tools to help us see God’s hand working in our lives, but as a methodology to recapture New Testament community they are destined to fail. The law was meant to end our dependence on any religious system. If God’s own didn’t work, what hope do we have of implementing our own, as well thought out as they might be? As Kevin Smith from Australia likes to say, “Jesus didn’t leave us with a system, but with his Spirit. When that becomes obvious to us we’ll be ready to live as the church instead of trying to build an unreasonable facsimile thereof.