I’m writing from New York City, where seven months into the pandemic we continue to live as people under siege. At first, constant sirens pierced the shuttered streets. Citizens like me huddled in homes and watched our governor’s daily noon broadcasts detailing the latest requirements to keep us safe. We built new habits that would shock our grandparents—from lengthy hand washing and social distancing to rigid grocery schedules and timed park visits. Some made family rules for wiping groceries and changing shoes. These noble strategies were designed to keep residents healthy and achieve a greater public good.
But rules intended to keep communities whole can also divide us. Too often regulations meant to foster common good become sources
of disagreement. Those who follow the laws religiously can grow self-righteous and shame those who fall short. Those who neglect laws designed to protect everyone, can grow self-centered and fail to protect the communities that need their help to thrive.
Rules have always created tension for Christ’s Church. Jesus often confronts this reality and Paul frequently writes about it. In today’s text, Paul reminds us all that rule-following for its own sake is never enough. In the Galatians’ contentious argument over circumcision, Paul widens the lens to help the church see the bigger picture that God has envisioned for God’s people all along. While laws are often tools that serve a useful purpose at a particular time, they are always the means to an end and not the end themselves. Paul reminds us that the end is God alone, who offers grace and love to all. That truth must be the point of all we do.
If I took God’s law of love as seriously as I take the other laws I live by, how would my life change?
God, help me see with your vision so that I will find your purpose. Amen.