Vineyard Church | Weekly Update June 12th 2024

adam greenwell bad leaders billings vineyard church galatians paul Jun 12, 2024

Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? Gal 4:8-9 NLT

This was a significant verse that drove the sermon this past Sunday, and it continues to drive me as I think about the depth of what Paul is writing. This obvious interruption and self-correction was left in the letter to communicate a point, and that point is revealing things in me that I thought were long ago dead.

Paul is making a correction as it relates to opposites. Rather than the opposite of knowing God being not knowing God, Paul corrects himself to say that the opposite of not knowing God is God knowing you… You might be thinking, dang, this dead horse is going to be dust before he stops beating it, and you might be right.

Every time I return to this passage, I am met with a new layer to consider. There are so many angles to this; one is the comfort level that exists in how much God knows me, but also angles of how this works out in practical life, and what role we play in this dichotomy makes for a thought tornado that can be exhausting.

What I am realizing as this particular tornado ravages the trailer park of my consciousness is that I am more self-centered than I thought. I tend to look at things as though I am at the center, and everything else emanates from that center. Relationships, tasks, schedules, all of the things that make up “my” life emanate from me as the common denominator.

From this paradigm, I can see how the illusion of me knowing God forms. I become aware of God, I become aware of what is required to have relationship with God, and then I move to accomplish those things… When I put it like that, it is not difficult to see how easy legalism can form.

What Paul is saying is really the epitome of God being at the center. In the beginning, God created everything out of nothing. As a part of his creation, he made us, in his image, in order to have relationship with us. With himself at the center, relationship is pure, functional, and missional. Sin, our sin, has broken that functionality, and God means to get it back by way of re-forming right relationship with us. How he has chosen to affect relationship with us is what can make him so difficult to understand. He does the work. He serves as the sacrifice. He stands in the gap. He takes on the role of the servant.

Now, we can read verses 8 and 9 as “Before you knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that don’t even exist, So now that God knows you… This is the thrust of the letter and this is the key for us in finding our application. In Chapter 3, Paul went to great length in reminding the Galatians of how God has faithfully revealed His character over time, how he has fulfilled every promise and taken every position for us. He did this because He sees us as His, objects of His great love and great joy, what He calls treasure, His chosen children.

The bad leaders that existed then, and some that remain today, teach that a state of relational perfection can be achieved by gaining true knowledge of God through the ladder of religious, legalist observance of a law.

Paul says no, that isn’t what Jesus taught and that isn’t what scripture reveals. The antidote to ignorance of God, the antidote to not knowing God is not found in acquiring knowledge about God but in God’s act of knowing us. We come back to this point, the point of the whole letter, that God’s choosing of us comes by way of His rectifying and nonreligious invasion of the natural realm in the person of Jesus.

The foundation for theology, the foundation for our faith is the Father’s act in Jesus, not an act that humans can endeavor to accomplish. From the beginning, it has been about God coming to us, not us going to him. Allowing God to be the center of our lives becomes an incursion, an intervention into self-centeredness of a loving Father into the life of his children.

Adam Greenwell
Lead Pastor | Billings Vineyard Church

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