JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
(Sunday, October 29)
“Brethren, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:16-20)
What does it mean for us, in practical terms, that we are “justified” by faith in Jesus Christ and not through “works of the law”? It means a change of focus. The “work” we need to focus on now, after Jesus Christ has come into our lives, is on nourishing our faith in our Lord and Master, and not on *us* mastering this or that rule, or building up *our* mastership of the rules. This is why, when the people ask Christ (in John 6:28), “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Faith or trust takes work, in any healthy relationship, and we need to keep working on communicating with our “significant other,” – also with our most Significant Other who is God, – so that the relationship with Him “works,” by the grace or divine energies that flow abundantly into us through communion with Him.
Does this mean that Christ is saying it is okay for us to sin now, or as St. Paul puts it, “is Christ then an agent of sin?” – “Certainly not!” the Apostle responds to this obvious question, because he knows that what he is saying is confusing. What he is saying is that “I,” or each of us, is no longer to be engaged in “building up” our own justification, through “our” works. It is no longer “I” who live, but Christ who lives in me, says the Apostle. Christ has loved me and gave Himself for me, – so, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,” who empowers me to act and move forward on my cross-carrying journey, which He has already journeyed through or passed through, in His Pascha. I consistently focus and re-focus on joining Him on that path, through a consistent repentance or “metanoia,” or change of mind or focus, whenever my mind or body wanders away from that focus into self-centered fears or ambitions, through which “I” might try to play God myself, or try to “save” or “justify” myself. Let me surrender to Him today a bit more, and accept His salvation a bit more, by trusting Him to be my God, a bit more. Happy Sunday!