Friday, 19 September 2014
Galatians Exultation: A Savior not a Formula
Today’s post was written by Carolyn Mayer. It is the last of our series of reflections on the book of Galatians. Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing your gratitude for our great Savior publicly.
I’m not sure I was struck by any single thing I learned, rather a deep and authentic grasp of the gospel in all its fullness. Over time I became acutely aware when anything, even something tiny, became added to Christ for my salvation and sanctification. By acute, I mean like an alarm and bright lights, tightness in my chest and a very real sense of a departure from the Gospel of scripture. I had never experienced this before.
Though my first response was actually one of pride (!), feeling as though I knew the REAL truth, God kindly softened my heart and convicted me of my foolish sin. After that I felt deep sadness for the bondage that results from adding to Christ. Even knowing Christ’s righteousness, I battle daily not to slip back into trusting my righteousness of earning and performing. But God has sharpened my weapons against the enemy’s attack. My knowledge of His Gospel and experience of His grace, has helped me recognize my efforts to save myself, and resist Satan’s deception.
Sharing the good news. My new love for the fullness of the Gospel came alive while we were in Pennsylvania for a family camp. The night before a women’s only break out session, the leader asked me to share about a challenging season we had walked through in our marriage. Her plan was to review 8 topics, 4 that build a marriage, and 4 that tear down a marriage. I wasn’t sure how our testimony would fit where she wanted it, but I said I would share.
The session began and wives were offering different tips on serving their husbands. One sweet woman, a mom of 3 under 3 (including a 7 week old), raised her hand and tearfully asked for anything and everything that would help her marriage. She had tried it all, but still felt like they were slowly drifting apart. The urgency of young children and the demands of military life left them despairing of the joy they used to have in one another.
The group tried to love her by offering even more tips and suggestions. Yet what we actually gave her, while well meaning, was more rules. “Here’s the formula for a healthy marriage.” We all crave instructions and steps, with guaranteed outcomes. But when we follow those paths, seeking more law, we turn away from grace. The whole session was drifting into works, guarding our marriages through ourselves.
While it wasn’t my turn to speak, God made it clear that the time was NOW. Interrupting, I asked if I could share. I told our story, but the “lesson” of our story is the Cross. There’s nothing we can do apart from Christ that will guard, sanctify, renew, or protect our marriages. We are sinners married to sinners joined in Christ. Our friend needed a Savior not a to-do list to save her marriage.
Here I stand. The Galatians study has helped me see how quickly lists and performance creep into my life. The Lord has showed me how often Paul’s words, “Oh foolish Galatians!” applies to me because of how “quickly I desert him who called me in the grace of Christ.” But grace is quick to bring me back to freedom. And that’s where I want to stay.
It is “for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm then and do not be burdened again” by my efforts apart from Him.