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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

TheBeginning, Part 2

The Character of God, Galatians

When I first started Seminary, the level of detail nearly drove me insane. I think a big part of the reason was my lack of knowledge of the general character of theologians. It took a while for me to realize that theologians leave absolutely no stone unturned when studying scripture. Eventually I learned the extreme detail applied to each part of ministry I studied. Welcome to extreme graduate school.

Because the M.Div. requirement for graduating is 144 hours, I became immersed in details. At some point in my second year I had a revelation. I realized that by merit of my personality I learn best when I apply knowledge using a top down method. In other words, when I identify the big picture it’s easier for me to understand the details.

I came to that understanding after talking to classmates and learning there are various ways we process information. Many people do learn better when they gather details first. I just don’t happen to be one of those people. What finally tipped me off is that I realized when a professor spent the first day giving an overview of what we would be studying, my overall view toward the coursework made it much easier for me to learn.

That knowledge changed the way I write.

While I do share details, I endeavor to consider the big picture.

Take Galatians for example: it was one of the Epistles of Paul (also called the Pauline Epistles). The Apostle Paul was the author. On his first missionary journey to Asia Minor, Paul traveled to Galatia where he established a following (church) for Jesus of Nazareth. Today, the church at Galatia is located in a region in north central Turkey. I’m not sure if that’s an important detail to modern day readers, but since I am a visual learner, when I study I always wonder what country and region Paul traveled to in 1st Century A.D.

See what I mean about establishing the big picture?

Another part of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia that seems to be important is why he wrote a follow up letter to them upon his return to Antioch (which is now located in south central Turkey).

It turns out that Paul got word that after he left Galatia that a group of Judiazers were telling the followers in Galatia false information. The Judiazers claimed that following the Law of Moses was an additional requirement to being a Christian. Paul wrote the letter to them so they would understand the big picture.

Today we call it, Solo Christo.

The message of the gospel Paul brought them was ONLY about CHRIST; in order to be saved, accept Jesus. There are no other requirements.

When reading the Epistles of Paul that is always the big picture he gives his readers. The very remarkable thing about that stems from the fact that prior to his conversion experience the Apostle Paul was a highly educated Pharisee who had studied under Gamaliel (who was considered to be the highest and best at the time). That meant Paul had worked his way up through the ranks of Judiasm to study with the best Rabbi at the time). Now, this same Paul (previously called Saul) believed following the Ten Commandments as a requirement to being a Christian “muddied” down the gospel message. He wrote to the church at Galatia to remind them to be a Christian (a follower of the WAY) the only requirement was believing Jesus saves them from their sins.

That really means that Paul’s conversion experience changed everything he had been taught and believed in as a Hebrew scholar. More than that, it meant that Paul really saw the big picture plan God gave us through Jesus.

In Galatians, “Paul’s aggressive tone shows just how important it was to him that the people embrace unity in Christ, no matter their racial distinctions. For him, this was no minor issue, as he went so far as to call the Galatians deserters of Christ, people turning from the truth toward a gospel contrary to the one they had received from Paul (Galatians 1:6–9). (*

Big picture is why Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia is so important to our view of the beginnings. God’s plan when He created the heavens and the earth was one of redemption through His Son, Jesus.

Paul’s letter will help us understand the big picture character of God.

This hiatus to Galatians in between Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 3 can help us gain an understanding of who God was and IS and is to come.

Today, I love my Seminary journey, because it became a part of my crazy journey. When God called me to this journey, I was 54 years old. I had been a Pastor’s wife for most of my adult life. I was now divorced and I was very broken. The divorce almost killed me. I lost everything I’d known in my adult life. Then, one day God reached inside me and called me a second time to come serve Him. Honestly, at the time I didn’t think I deserved another chance. (Mostly because at the time I didn’t understand what I did wrong the first time). One of the required areas of study in Seminary was Pastoral Counseling. As I studied that segment, I came to understand how God viewed my broken condition.

Because of my history Paul’s letter to the Galatians is personal to me. God’s word of redemption in Genesis 2-3 is personal. I’ve lived it. All my life I’ve had various people tell me they don’t deserve God’s redemption. I’m telling you that ‘broken’ is where God does His best work.

My ‘broken’ became a huge part of my crazy journey.

Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Give One broken piece to Jesus

You may not be like me...I needed to give God one ‘piece that was broken’. Looking at all the pieces seemed to overwhelm me. However you feel, whatever you can face, give it to God. If it’s one small broken piece, that will make God happy. God wants you, broken pieces and all. He loves you and wants you to turn to Him.

In Jesus, Deborah

*for example, a racial distinction in 1st Century A.D. would have referred to Jew vs. Gentile.


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