Thinking About How We're Thinking About Things2
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Galatians had fallen for some bad theology. It turns out, theology isn’t just for nerds. Everyone’s got theology—some understanding of who God is and what God is like. It’s just a question if it’s faithful, true, good, and in keeping with who God really is.
The bad theology was that Gentiles (non-Jews) had to become Jews by obeying the law in order to become Christ-followers. So Paul here says, “Fine, you want to play the law game? The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The truth of the matter is that for every distorted view of God, of faith, of love, of freedom, and so many other important concepts, what Jesus has done meets that distortion and corrects it in such a way as to make it richer, fuller, more meaningful.
You want the law? Jesus equips you to love your neighbor as yourself in a way that nothing else can. You want freedom? Jesus has come to set you free from the fear of death, you can’t get any more free than that! You want love? Jesus replaces lust with something less selfish and shallow sentimentalism with something stronger: real love that sacrifices for the beloved.
Here, it seems appropriate to bring in a favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
When it comes to many of the most important concepts that we hold, the definitions and images and pictures have all been dominated by media and culture rather than the hearty teachings of Jesus. Definitions and images and pictures that are not too strong but way too weak. We are far too easily pleased.
Think through your own understanding of some key concepts: freedom, love, joy, meaning, faith, God. What concepts do you think have more of the world’s understanding of them than Jesus’s? Where do you need Jesus to give you more robust definitions, images and pictures of what these concepts mean?