“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:19-20)
The early church had a lot to sort out. After all, the most history-changing event ever had just taken place in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. People saw things one way before the coming of Christ. But his coming called many things into question and his death and resurrection literally called everything into question. If God had come in Jesus and if Jesus had died and rose again, then what did that mean? And how were followers of Jesus supposed to live in the new light that had come to us in Christ?
Galatians was written to people still trying to figure this out. The Apostle Paul has helped start communities of faith but as he has moved on to other places, they have had to figure out how to continue his work without him. That has resulted in ongoing struggles between within group of new Christians. How should they let people in? What are the rules for everyone once they are in? Is this a new kind of Jewish group or is it something completely new?
In response to the news of this debate, Paul writes a letter back to his friends in Galatia. His focus is that putting too many restrictions on new people is not helpful. There are already plenty of places with too many rules for people. This is not about a new way to apply the law. This is all about grace and we belong and participate in this because of what God has done in Jesus. In fact, once we are part of this new community our old selves are no longer at issue. For we our old selves are crucified with Christ. Just as he died on the cross, so when we are connected to him, our old selves die as well. And what is in their place? Jesus Christ now lives in us!
The word Christian implies that we are “Christ-bearers.” Where we go, Jesus goes. What we do, it is the ongoing work of Christ. We are not alone. In fact, we bring Christ with us in all that we do.