Galatian Reflections #1 – Caught between a rock and a religious hard place…
Who’d have thought that Galatians was going to be as challenging as it has been for us? Using the framework offered to us by Brigitte Kahl, we understand that Paul is describing believers trapped between two religious systems trying to find the creative “third way”. On one side of the equation are the followers of the Imperial Roman cult, who believe that it is perfectly acceptable to consider yourself superior with a religious duty to either colonise/convert the inferior other, and if they resist your attempts, to vanquish them.
On the other side, we find Paul’s “Judaisers”. Get circumcised and then begin the quest to “convert” others so that they become pure insiders like yourself. We are well antiquated with the story of the woman caught in adultery to know what this kind of religion does to unclean outsiders.
The two religions don’t look that much different when compared in this way.
So what is Paul’s creative “third way”? A radical movement of love. We chose, as followers of Jesus, to discover the “frightening other”. When we do discover them, inspired by the love of a wild and uncontrollable Spirit, we move towards the “other”, in an attempt to understand and ultimately stand in solidarity with the “other”, and in that unpredictable liminal space, the wild Spirit somehow transforms both of us.
All of a sudden, the “foolish Galatians”, making laws to protect them from such an uncomfortable proposition starts to look completely rational and sane. Maybe we wont be so hard on them now, as we glean a greater understanding of Galatians as a result of our study?
So, where are the places that the wild Spirit desires to take you that you are afraid to go?