“We have come to believe in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law.”
The word “justify,” as central as it is in Paul’s writings and in our theology, just doesn’t move me. It doesn’t wash over me with grace, inspire me, or bring tears of joy and relief to my eyes. That I am “justified” is a truth that I love and appreciate, but it is a truth that stays in my head and just doesn’t trickle down into my heart. I don’t ever talk about being “justified” when I talk about my faith even though I know it to be true. Do you? Maybe it is just one of those words that isn’t part of our everyday language in how we talk about our relationship with God, or each other, or the world. In a commentary on this text, Pastor Mary Hinkle Shore helped me experience this verse differently when she suggested replacing the words “justify” and “justified,” with “belong” and “belonging.”
“We have come to believe in Christ Jesus so that we might belong by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law.”
Belonging is a heart knowledge. And what I know to be true about God’s kind of belonging is that it is big. REALLY BIG. Belonging is what set Paul’s passion for proclaiming the wide open, inclusive, welcome of God on fire so much so that he wrote this letter in response to those who weren’t thinking big enough about this new way of being the body of Christ. Paul knows that belonging isn’t up to us and our actions, it is up to God for us. The source of our belonging is in Christ himself, who welcomes each of us, not because of what we do, but because that’s who he is. May you take comfort in knowing that you belong to God, today and always.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Gracious God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing. Pour into our hearts your gift of love, that, made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.