I had an epiphany or a revelation while reading my Bible in Galatians chapter 2 the other day. There where several facets of the revelation that are tied in together with my over thesis, which made the light go off or on actually. If one reads Galatians chapter 1& 2 we find that it addresses the difficulties of the law of the Jewish religion and its influence in the new prospering Christian church with Peter in Jerusalem, and Paul ministering to the gentiles in the outer cities and regions from Jerusalem. It is some what of a difficult chapter to understand, but manageable when scrutinized and delved into.
The basis of my thesis is the premise that esoteric religious words hinder ones desire and ability to have a more truthful, trusting, honest and stronger relationship with God. For instance, one facet of my epiphany that ties into my thesis is the word or concept of grace. How is grace tied in to hindering a healthy relationship with God? One, it is an obscure or latent word. Another point, we would say that salvation, being with God when we die, or going to heaven, is through faith and that not by works that any man (one) should boast, but by grace we are saved, however, an important thing to note is that this is generated mainly from Gods side or point of view not mans. Ok, we are saved by grace and that from God, which is great and it sounds good and that because we have heard it many times over and over again, but what does it really mean? What is grace? A regular dictionary would define Grace as, ďelegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or actionĒ. Now how does this really relate? A religious definition would be defined as ďunmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctificationĒ, Oí boy more religious words. Titus 3:5, says that ďhe (God) saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercyĒ. Did we notice that this is coming from God and Godís side of the equation and not man or humanities. There we go again with another religious word, mercy. What does mercy mean? The dictionary defines mercy as ďan act of kindness, compassion, or favorĒ and that rightly would be coming from God. Religious words are ok if we are in an academic setting, and that of a graduate level audience, but the majority of church going people are just everyday ordinary citizens and are not religious scholars.
Again defined by religious words, our relationship with God, and that post Jesus or after Jesus came into the world, is by grace and mercy and faith and not by the law, rules or payment anymore. However, again it needs to be noted that this is all from Godís side of the equation and not mans. What is our part or side in the equation? Another issue that ties into the thesis and epiphany, about religious words or concepts in this chapter, is that Paul states or calls himself a bond-servant or a slave to Jesus, and that is ok, even great actually, commendable and respected, but lets go or take this a step further then being a slave.
The point is that a slave is and can be bought or sold. A slave is something we own and is paid for. It is like being under the law where our sins are something we owe for or have to pay for, like an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth and so on. This issue is easy to identify, but grace, mercy and other esoteric religious words are a little more subtle and similarly fog up or muddle our relationship with God or our understanding of God anyway. An example would be, we say that our salvation is through grace and mercy that by or from God and that is ok, it is true and sounds saintly or divine, but what does it really mean. It really is difficult to figure out, get a grasp on or understand the totality of it very well, other then this is from Godís point of view and not ours.
The key is to see our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God as a personal relationship and not mystical jargon that fogs up the whole thing and our relationship with God. It just causes barriers and stunts our growth.
To see the other side of the equation was the epiphany for me that I saw out of this chapter from Godís word to us, is that our relationship with God is not out of Grace and mercy and possibly even faith and that from Godís point of view but it is out of love, not out of ecclesiastical edict or words. Grace is from Godís side, or point of view, mercy is from Godís side, and that is true, but from humanities point of view my relationship with God is out of love, pure, simple and unadulterated love. Again my relationship with God is not out of mercy, grace or slavery, but love, mans side or point of view in the relationship. We are Godís out of love, love for God. My epiphany goes deeper than Godís side of the equation and relationship, but we need to see it and take at it from humanities point of view also, to make a whole picture from both sides of the issue. Our salvation is out of love, our saving grace is out of love, our mercy is out of love and that God first loved us, yes, but we stay with God because we love God a lot and care so much about God that we would never leave God and Jesus and Godís Spirit, because of our relationship and interaction with God our daily walk and personal as well as global or universal experiences with God. We know and feel God, and Godís Love through His Spirit.
I want to set with God and have a personal relationship with the creator, because I want to be there and be with Him and would go no where else. Not because of Grace and mercy and slavery, but because I love God and know God. Yes, we know we want to have reverence and respect for God, as a person would with their God, but now my draw is I want to have a personal relationship with God, because I know Him and His ways and His Love for me as well as for the world.
I want to set and talk with God and Jesus on a friendship basis, and on or as a dependent relationship. I know it is not as equals, a good analogy would be like a relationship with a worker and his or her boss, in which they have a good relationship of deep mutual respect and care. Hopefully, you revere your boss and respect them, and you want to have a healthy, honest, trusting, open and good relationship and communication with them and that not out of fear or a foggy understanding at a distance or separation because of a lack of a truthful understanding and road blocks to a true relationship because of rules or doctrine or opaque edict. Maybe another good analogy would be like a father son business relationship or a mom, daughter endeavor. You are in this together, not hiding anything or having false barriers or misconceptions or deception or even condescension.
Another point, aspect or facet of this epiphany is the concept of being a slave to God and that is ok and a noble cause, but there are weaknesses with this concept as well. As a slave, I can go somewhere else that has more perks or benefits or that someone else can buy me or I can even runaway. I do not love my master; I just try and get the best out of the situation that I can. I know Paul did not mean this aspect of being a slave to God, but meant that he wants to give all of himself to God, I am not trying to take anything away from what Paul says but I am using the slave analogy from this chapter in a different light trying to expand to it. From our point of view, is that being saved by grace and mercy are not as strong as if I am saved out of love, because I want to be there and because my relationship with God is not only clearer, but is stronger than grace and mercy and that is out of love, not veiled words.
Godís relationship with us is out of grace and mercy yes, and it is free, but my relationship (mans point of view) with God is out of something much more deeper and that is love. Another good point to make in this is that love will draw a person more than anything thing in the world and if it where known it is free. We do not have to pay for love and we do not owe anyone anything for it and they do not owe us anything. I do not mean to be hard or disrespectful I just feel love is so strong that no one can take it away from us. People can take grace away and mercy, but you can not take love away. Love is blind, blinding and binding.
I love God so much. My draw is so strong to God. I know it is out of love and not out of some intellectual or religious word or words. I can feel love. I can not feel grace or mercy. Love is powerful. To me there is nothing stronger in the whole world or universe then love. I look at my dog and I really love that guy a whole lot. We love our children and we would do anything for them and most of the time for our spouse, we get the point. Some of us have died for God, what slave would die for his master unless he or she truly loved their master?
I am saved through grace and mercy and that not by works so that no man should boast. Yes, that is all good and well and true and praise God for what He has done, but I know it is much deeper than that. I am saved by love, pure and simple unadulterated love, by my personal relationship and experiences with God, Jesus and Godís Spirit, the Trinity.
Everyday I get closer and closer to God and everyday I let go of things that are not how God wants me to live or created the world to be lived in. It is a slow process but steady and true almost 30 years now. My relationship with God grows more and more, daily. I know it is a maturing relationship like an adult-child one with his father doing things together with him fixing a car or working on a house or learning about Spiritual things and the truth. However, it needs to be said that my love for God is much deeper and much stronger than that or anything else I have experienced in my life. Nothing or no one has shown me more love in my life then I have experienced with God, Jesus and Godís Spirit.