I’ve recently been reading through a number of Paul’s letters to the churches that he wrote throughout his life and have found them to be an interesting complement to the Gospels. The Gospels allow us to learn who Jesus is by following him along in the narratives of his life. Paul’s letters expound on those narratives by telling us what it all means.
So in Paul’s letters, we’re helped along in our understanding of what those of us in the Christian faith believe.
This morning, as I spent time in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, I was brought to a moment of noticing what has been happening here on this site in the last week and a half and how it relates to what we believe in the Christian faith.
In this space for the last week and a half, we’ve been talking pretty consistently about the notion of rest. We spent several days with a meditation that began with the image of a large and sturdy rock. We were invited to sit down and rest a while on that rock, then to notice the flowers at our feet, and then to notice the presence of Christ sitting with us in that scene.
We also talked about Jesus being the salt in our lives — of his saltiness being the flavor we taste and the density that buoys us as we experience the ocean. We considered what it would be like to have encountered Jesus on earth during the days he lived here, and we held inside ourselves the idea that he comes to where we are — no matter where we are — and is present to us there. We also considered his role as the Good Shepherd and his intent to lead us beside still waters and feed us on lush green grasses.
All of this, to me, seemed like an ongoing invitation to rest and to allow Jesus to be the one who is with us and does the “work” of being what we need and providing for us.
So as I read through a section of Paul’s letter to the Galatians this morning, I noticed a convergence between these meditations we’ve considered over the last week and a half and the foremost premise of the Christian faith.
The bedrock of the Christian faith is our trust in Jesus as the Messiah. Paul says:
Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
— Galatians 2:16
There is something foundational about our belief and faith in Jesus. Who he is matters. And our ongoing relationship with him is the essence of our formation process.
Today, I invite you to consider the question: who is Jesus to you? Is he — or could at some point be — the Messiah in whom you place your trust?