Saturday, 23 January 2021
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. -Galatians 5:6
What is the real essence of Christianity? All through the ages of church history, many have stumbled at this very vital point. Even during the time of the early Apostles, these questions arose and were answered by the Lord through powerful letters written by His chosen Apostles. Galatians is such a book which rejects the claims of ritualism in Christian faith. The point of debate then was the need of circumcision for a person to be saved, endorsed by the Judaizers. Paul beautifully counters the arguments of the Judaizers.
1. External Rituals
Every religion in this world is centred on some form of external rituals they perform in order to please their god. Some form or other is required for an unregenerate heart to come near to the celestial being- God. For this, each religion has its own set of religious forms or external rituals. What about Christianity? How is it different from other religions? What constitutes the fundamental units of our faith that fits our conscience and pleases God?
True Christianity has nothing to do with any form of ritualism. The above verse can be paraphrased like this: ‘For in Christ Jesus no external rituals counts for anything but faith working through love.' For Christians there are two sacraments namely -Baptism and Communion. But none of these is a means to an end to reach God or to be saved. The faith that works in a person is symbolically expressed by partaking in these divinely ordained sacraments. But if we are not united with Christ in real faith, then the mere outward compliance of these sacraments mean nothing. Christ describes it beautifully when He explains true worship to the Samaritan woman: "But an hour is coming--and now is here--when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth... God is Spirit, and the ones who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24)
2. Essence of True faith
The supreme commandment of Christianity is nothing but love. As we discussed above, real faith in the real God is expressed without any mimicking. A true believer expresses the Christ-likeness in his/her character by love. None can mimic this in any form by any kind of external ritualism. The root of this true faith and its essence lies in the new nature itself. As soon as a person comes to the Lord Jesus trusting Him for his salvation, a new creation happens inside of him. This is divinely done by the Lord. No human hand can do this; no rituals can replicate this. This creation done by the Creator in a person is the driving force behind true Christianity. The presence of this true belief in a person is noticed by the outward character of love. This is divine not human. Its supplements come from the Creator God Himself, who lives in the believer and manifests Himself through various character traits of that person: in essence, love.
As we meditate on today's devotion let us devote unconditionally to God for the truest expressions of His love through the divine character. Let us prayerfully submit our lives to our Father for His will to be done, not ours.
Prayer: Dear Father, I submit unconditionally to you to express this divine nature in my life through love. In Jesus name, Amen.