Paul is a bit upset in this week’s Narrative Lectionary reading. He had worked hard as a faith formation leader for the Galatians, teaching them about Jesus and how to be in relationship with God. He had provided a frame, or trellis, upon which their trusting relationship with God could be lived out in joy and love. That’s what education does, it provides a framework of knowledge and skills upon which we can grow and flourish. Or a skeleton that gives our lives and actions shape and structure. Education is a critical part of faith formation, as it is through education that we learn who God is, what our relationship with God is about, and what God calls us to do in our daily lives. The message we are taught, the good news, affects how we think of God and how we live our lives. The message can lead to a life filled with peace, joy, and love lived out in service, or it could lead to a life filled with fear, hatred, and exclusivism. Education, the message, our theology matters.
Christian education can take place in a wide variety of places and times. It can be in a classroom at church or in the sanctuary in worship. It can be at home with your family or at lunch with a friend. We can learn through books, movies, website, and podcasts, as well experiences (good and bad ones). And, education (learning) is not just for the young. Education, just like the rest of faith formation, should be lifelong and “life-wide,” it should continue from birth to death and in every part of your life. As Albert Einstein is credited with saying: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
Paul is upset. He sees the inclusive message of freedom and belonging accomplished through the work of Jesus that he taught them being replaced by an exclusionary message based on human attempts at following God’s Torah. Basing the relationship we have with God as the Body of Christ on our own actions is a recipe for anxiety, fear, and fighting to get it all right. This is not the framework Paul wanted them to follow.
Paul wants all of us to follow a message that includes all people, no matter how many labels they have on them, rather than exclude those who are not like us. The Gentiles didn’t have to become Jews to be a part of God’s family. Because of what Jesus has done for us, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Amen.
In the formation of our faith, education matters. The message we learn matters. However, theology isn’t the end game here. Faith is not about what we know, but how we live.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
This week’s FREE faith formation resource is simple activity from our Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd) product that can be used as part of a children’s sermon, the worship service, or a classroom activity. The Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd) curriculum provides weekly lessons covering each Sunday of the Narrative Lectionary year with a large variety of activities for different learning and teaching styles.