Day 11

Sons and Heirs

from the Galatians reading plan


Galatians 3:27-29, Galatians 4:1-7, John 14:1-11, John 14:18-21, Romans 8:1-17

BY Bailey Gillespie

One of my closest friends, Rory, has a fierce loyalty to both Jesus and quality coffee beans. Lately, while coffeeshop crawling around town, we seem to keep coming back to the same topics: G. K. Chesterton, the Enneagram, men, and what she likes to call “ecumenical dialogue.”

Although we don’t share a love for coffee, we do share a passion for the Church in all its broken, messy complexity. Having had exposure to a wide range of church traditions, these conversations always remind us that we long for deeper unity—remembering that God doesn’t align more with one end of the faith spectrum than the other: He is the spectrum.

When Paul calls for unity in his Galatians epistle, he declares, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female since you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gl 4:28). Human nature just wants to divide. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s denominational or sociopolitical or any other categorization: it wants to raise and lower inherent value to seek and further its own good. But the gospel is a hospitable, open table where everyone is honored.

During Paul’s missionary journeys, he needed to clarify the heartbeat of the gospel to an ancient world that devalued Jews, slaves, and females. Religion was just one more system that marginalized them. The temptation to reserve the gospel for those who didn’t seem to need it as much began to quelch what should have been “good news.” Good news for all—not just those who already had all the freedom they needed.

Paul urges us to remember that the kingdom of God isn’t discriminatory. It’s heaven extending its hand and inviting us to a feast as brothers and sisters. We are, communally, made in the complex image of God. No individual, no matter how impoverished in mind, body, or resources is exempt from His lavish hospitality. Although we’re born into this world enslaved, He adopts us and makes us not “a slave, but a son” and an “heir” (Gl 4:7). We are now all heirs to this grace.

No community is perfect, but my home church back in California does a beautiful job at pursuing unity. It’s quirky and hard to pin down theologically. The air circulation isn’t great, and the worship flows in and out of syncopation. But, boy, does that church know how to love. On any given Sunday, on your way to the Eucharist table, you may meet those who are wealthy or who ride a bicycle to work. Who have a PhD in early church history or who have never taken a college class. This church doesn’t quite fit or belong to any one denominational stream. And maybe the reason why I gravitate to churches like this is because I, too, never quite feel like I fit or belong. It’s churches like these that remind me why the gospel is good news.

May we always have a spirit of hospitality toward our brothers and sisters. After all, we’re all just looking for a family in which to belong, and Jesus has made us this hopeful promise: “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you” (Jn 14:18).

Post Comments (29)

29 thoughts on "Sons and Heirs"

  1. Jenny Yahn says:

    Flesh as Paul talks about here: the mindset that I can do it all myself. The habits, tricks, defense mechanisms that I have learned to employ all my life to find my love, worth and acceptance from somewhere other than the only place I can truly find it, from God. This is what the Romans part of the reading is about. When we are saved we are dead to sin, but we also have to understand flesh and our mindset. We must learn to set our mind to to the spirit so we may walk by the spirit, not the flesh.
    Galatians is a constant reminder we are done with the law. There is a new covenant, the old is gone. The Galatians were trying to bring pieces of the old covenant back into the church, which Paul was admonishing them for. To make the devotion about all churches being acceptable and God is a spectrum is kind of the exact opposite of what he is saying. Yes we are to love everyone. Everyone is welcome at the table. But be clear that once believers, we must understand…the law is dead. We are new, Christ is in us and his desire is to live His life in us, through us, as us. Understand your flesh so you may set your mind to the spirit and walk out that desire. Many, many churches do not understand that freedom, and are teaching exactly as the foolish Galatians are. False gospel is everywhere. Praying for clarity for all in this regard.

  2. Madison says:

    I see your perspective and agree that Truth is Truth. I think what the author was getting at, wasn’t that theology should be ambiguous (I see how it can come across that way) but that there are MANY ambiguous points that denominations nail down as Truth and cause man-made division. No matter the opinion, may we always seek to understand and love through God’s grace and the love He first gave us.

  3. Kaity says:

    I never comment on these things but I agree with Laura – God is not wish washy. He’s not a spectrum. He is solid truth. He want us to be unified around His unadulterated gospel – nothing added or taken away from it. That’s what Galatians is about. That’s a difficult thing to apply in this day and age with so many denominational differences. But I don’t think a church can be theologically ambiguous and call that unity. That’s not the unity spoken of here.

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