Not So Random Ramblings: Free From and Free to
Almost one year ago, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in church vocations from Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, TN, and started Asbury seminary last fall. I am in my second semester. I take 3 classes at a time, and this semester I am taking them all online, but I will have to travel to the Kentucky campus for about 1/3 of my classes. My goal is to be an ordained elder in full connection, which I figure, could be by the time my youngest starts college in 5 years!
I began to feel the pull toward ministry in the mid 1990’s, but did not get the “official Call” until 1999. It wasn’t until 2004 that I was given the push to actively pursuing my education. Up until that point, I was content and happy being a full-time wife and mom to our four kids. I often joke about not knowing what I wanted to be until I was 30!
This has been a very long process for me and I often wondered if I would ever make it, but during this time, I have learned that I need to be patient with God and trust his timing. When I look back to when he first called me, I can’t imagine why he did, because I was such a different person then. I have since realized that there was a lot I needed to learn and change before He could fully use me. God’s timing is always perfect.
I have been following Christ, for most of my life, but what I didn’t realize until about 4 years ago is that I was just like this group of Jewish Christians, called Judaizers that Paul warned the Galatians about in his letter to them. These Christian Judaizers were people who combined a commitment to Christianity with following certain Jewish practices to varying degrees. They followed some dietary laws, and other Jewish customs. They saw no contradictions in how they lived or had any issue with blurring the lines between Christian practice and Jewish practice. In other words, we could say that they lived a belief system more than they lived a life of faith because their life of so called faith was based on what they did more than on the grace of Christ.
The reason for Paul’s letter to the Galatians was because a group of Judaizers had infiltrated the church in Galatia that Paul had founded and they were trying to not only undermine Paul’s authority there, but also to persuade those Christians there that circumcision was requiredto be “right with God.” They were telling the people that a certain set of beliefs and practices were the only way to correctly serve God. Paul writes to dissuade them and remind them of what he taught them when he was there. Listen as I read Galatians 5:1-6 and 13-16 from the New Century Version of the Bible.
Paul says to them:
1 We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law. Listen, I, Paul tell you that if you go back to the law by being circumcised, Christ does you no good. Again, I warn every man: If you allow yourselves to be circumcised, you must follow all the law. If you try to be made right with God through the law, your life with Christ is over—you have left God's grace. But we have the true hope that comes from being made right with God, and by the Spirit we wait eagerly for this hope. When we are in Christ Jesus, it is not important if we are circumcised or not. The important thing is faith—the kind of faith that works through love.
13 My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If you go on hurting each other and tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other. So I tell you: Live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what your sinful selves want.