Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 23, 2015
Reaching God through My Righteousness? Umm . . .
When my third daughter was a little girl, a preschooler, we would go to the park. There would be swings, and she’d dash to them. Hopping on, she would pump and go higher and higher. “Mom, look! I’m going up to the sky! I’ll reach the moon soon! I’ll reach as high as God!” I would laugh, and encourage her to pump as high as she could. (A daredevil, that one.)
When I read the passage from the liturgical lectionary prayer book today, I found it came from Galatians 2:11-21. As my eye settled on 2:21, I noticed “if righteousness were possible under the Law then Christ died for nothing.”
My daughter tried to reach up to the sky. Reach up to God. The first thing I thought of as I read the second chapter of Galatians was the Tower of Babel from Genesis. The people who built the Tower were trying to touch the sky. Trying to reach as high as God.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul relates a situation where the Apostle Peter tried to be extra-, super-cautious and thereby discriminated against a smaller, minority group among the believers. Peter was trying to convince Gentile believers that they had to eat and drink and live in the same way and according to the same laws as Jewish believers.
The Gentile believers trying to reach God by “acting Jewish” was just as foolish as the people at the Tower of Babel building the tower high enough so that they could try to reach God. And just as foolish (and sweet!) as my preschool-aged daughter declaring that she was going to pump so high on the swing that she would be able to reach up to God.
Praise God, we do not need to twist ourselves into knots in order to satisfy some legalistic Pharisee. God is gracious. Here is Paul’s prayer, in verse 2:20; it’s even been set to music.
I’ll say it over and over again. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Like, right here and now, in today’s lectionary reading. Praise God, indeed.
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