Cleaning Up the Mess You MadeFr. Barnabas Powell
“I am sick of this! I mean it, this is the very last time!” I hear these words in my head and I know they are a lie. I’m having to clean up another mess someone else has made! And I feel the resentment and anger rising in my heart and mind, and starting to feel the intoxicating effects of that anger making me say and think things that are both unhelpful and unloving.
But, in the eternal perspective, there is really no good to come from these feelings at all, except as a way for you to know where you are vulnerable to the passions and to your own fears and expectations.
Imagine the whole of humanity and the mess we’ve made of God’s creation and God’s purpose for us. And look at Jesus coming to clean up the mess we made!
Look at our lesson today in Galatians 3:15-22:
Brethren, to give a human example: no one annuls even a man’s covenant, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to your offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
St. Paul continues to try to correct these Galatian Christians in what he sees as a fundamental heresy of his day. St. Paul wants to forever banish the wrong teaching that some had taught to these gentile Christians that they had to be Jewish before they could be Christian.
And Paul does this by doing what all our Orthodox Fathers have insisted upon since the earliest days of our Faith: We MUST understand the Old Testament through the Person of Jesus Christ!
St. Paul takes these confused Christians right back to the very beginning of the Faith of Abraham. He reveals to them a significant hint God inspired in these earliest writings to point us to Jesus Christ. St. Paul says that God made a covenant with Abraham, to be sure. But the main covenant God made was with Himself! The promise God made to Abraham; was that He would make Abraham’s name great, that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the sands of the sea, and that He would make Abraham’s Offspring a blessing to the whole world, and God fulfilled every promise He made Abraham through Jesus Christ!
Our following the wisdom of the Faith now involves a reaction and motivation of gratitude towards God and love for God, not the mere rule-keeping that was always meant to prove to us stubborn humans that we can never get it perfect! We must have mercy and grace! And the only way we stubborn humans will ever be able to embrace mercy and grace is if we are humble enough to admit we need it! And the only way we will ever be humble enough to admit we need it is if we can become grateful.
So, today, are you so in love with Jesus Christ that you see that God has come to clean up the mess you’ve made. He’s not angry at you. He’s not disappointed in you. He sees you as you were meant to be and He doesn’t hold anything against you. He loves you and He has demanded of you one thing: Be grateful and you’ll be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You see me and all my life. You know me better than I know myself. You have grafted me into Your Church to apply the eternal wisdom of Your love to my daily life, AND You give me the grace and mercy to continually “commend all our lives unto Christ, Our God.” You really do want me to clean up the mess of my life. But You never ask me to do this hard work alone. You give me my brothers and sisters and You give me Yourself so that I will learn to be humble, vulnerable, and honest about my struggles and my longing to be like You! Thank You, Lord. I love You. Amen