We come to the end of our fourth book today. These shorter books of Paul go quickly. We are on to James tomorrow. Good place to jump back onboard if necessary.
So much of Galatians has been anchored in the interplay between law and grace, slavery and freedom. In the third to last paragraph of the book Paul tells us why the law is futile to make us righteous, why we are free from slavery, why we are alive in Christ, and why we can have the Spirit:
As for me, God forbid that I should boast — except in the cross of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Circumcision, you see, is nothing; neither is uncircumcised! What matters is new creation. Peace and mercy on everyone who lines up by that standard — yes, on God’s Israel. (6:14-16)
Ritual makes us focus on ourselves. The cross of Jesus focuses us on the work of Jesus. The law offers guidance for right living, but leaves us without the power to do it. The cross made spiritual power available with the coming of the Spirit at the ascension of Christ. The law was spoken into the world of the old creation. The cross vanquished all powers set against God’s Kingdom and started a new creation. The law enslaved us to sin, guilt, and the death that is the consequence of failure. The cross frees us from all such tyrannies. The center of the way of Christ is the cross. A cross-less Christianity is just one more way to end up enslaved.
As a result, the cross becomes our focus for how we live life each day. We “carry each other’s burdens” or crosses (6:2). This may leave the “marks of Jesus” on our bodies (6:17), but we are okay with that because we are certainly not the ones who want to “avoid persecution for the Messiah’s cross” (6:12). Daily, we “sow in the field of the spirit” and as a result “harvest eternal life from the spirit” (6:8). Focused on the cross as our power we take up the cross as our service — to God and to others.