Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Galatians Back to Paul, and Paul's Response

[[Warning: Thought Experiment Below.  If you are uncomfortable with or unable to detect satire and sarcasm, please quit reading now]]

I, Nestor, on behalf of the churches of Galatia, write to you, Paul, our Apostle and father in the faith.  Grace and peace to you.

We are so grateful for you, and especially for your last letter.  Your position on circumcision saved many of our men from a painful experience.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Many, if not all of us would have gladly been circumcised, seeing it as a small price to pay for the benefits of being made full members of God's family. And those Jewish followers of Christ who came from Jerusalem made such a compelling case from the scriptures that circumcision was a necessary part of being full members of God's covenant people. Yet, we all gasped a sigh of relief as we read your letter, and now that you have presented your argument, we are all the more convinced (although some of that stuff about Sarah, Hagar and the Child of promise seemed a little bit of a stretch).  The rite of circumcision has served only as a barrier or wall that separated Jew and Gentile.  We see it so clearly now that what was accomplished in Christ was the smashing of all such barriers so that Gentiles, like us, can be fully incorporated into the family of God.

Now, those from Jerusalem have returned, and while they are still pestering us about circumcision, few of us seem swayed even a little.  But, another issue has arisen and been pressed by the Jerusalem Christians, and we thought it prudent to write to you for your advice in this matter as well.  We think we know the answer, but would like your thoughts as our Apostle and father in the faith.

You see, down in Lystra they have just erected a gorgeous new temple to Zeus. The marble work is superb, (at least it looks so from a distance, we as a community dedicated to Christ will not worship such false idols), and Philip saw the imposing statue as it was brought into town, and he said he had never seen craftsmanship so beautiful.  Anyway, we thought it sad that Zeus, this idol, whom many of us used to worship but as we now know is no god at all, should be revered with such marvelous architecture and sculpture, while God and Christ are nowhere to be seen.  Therefore, we, the churches of Galatia have decided to pool our resources, and through much sacrificial giving, we have come up with enough to commission a competent local sculptor to sculpt for us a modest, but very well done statue of God.  We have seen preliminary drawings done by the sculptor, and I think you would be very pleased.  When complete, though it will not rival the statue of Zeus in stature, I believe it will be more than sufficient to let our community know that God has a presence here.

Now, here's the rub.  These Jerusalem followers of Christ were outraged when they heard of our plans.  Once again, they whipped out their trusty scripture scrolls and pointed us to the commandment in Exodus, which reads something like, "You shall make no graven images of God, or anything else for that matter."  Well, we just don't know.  Sure, there it was, right in the scriptures, but so was circumcision. So, what are we to do with what these Jerusalem followers of Christ are calling the "Law."  You wrote in your last letter that we were justified by the faithfulness of Christ and by our faithful trust in him, not by these "works of the Law."  So, we believe we know what your answer will be (but we thought we would write to you just to make sure).  So, unless we hear back from you to the contrary, we will go with your previous letter and act is if the "Law" is not binding on us in this matter, as it was with the "Law" of circumcision.

John and Theodore send there greetings.  May the peace of Jesus the Christ and God the Father be with you.

I, Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, write to the churches in Galatia.  Grace and Peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks for your careful reading of my first letter.

Quite busy now with these surly Corinthians.  No time for a lengthy letter. About your issue, nothing more needs to be said.  You are right, the "Law" means nothing.  Disregard it and I look forward to seeing the statue of God.  I've never seen one before.  Why didn't I think of that?

Timothy sends his greetings and says: Statues of God Rock. Grace and peace.

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