Here’s a story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely s.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother’s,
The youngest one in curls.
Here’s a story of a man named Brady
Who was busy with three boys of his own
They were four men living all together
but they were all alone.
Till the one day when this lady met this fellow
And they knew that it was much more than a hunch
That this group would somehow form a family
That’s the way they all became the Brady bunch.
And, according to the TV show, once they got married, it was a case of happily ever after for this blended family.
Except for a few ups and downs. Like Jan being jealous of Marcia. Or Marcia getting braces. Or when Greg wants to be a rock star. Or when the S want to come along on the BOYS yearly camping trip.
Apart from the odd hiccup, when you watch the show, you get the overwhelming impression that blending a family like that is EASY. And FUN.
But real life’s not like that. The reality with blended families is FAR DIFFERENT. Trying to get two different families to work together can take YEARS. Two families hurt by divorce or , often with all sorts of baggage they bring with them.
It can take YEARS to get beyond the assumptions and expectations. The different ways of doing things, and the different priorities. YEARS to build trust and love/ despite the misunderstandings and arguments. It takes hard work, tears and struggle to build a NEW family. With NEW rules and traditions and priorities.
In the TV version, Mike Brady just says, YOU DON’T DO THAT ANY MORE. You’re a BRADY NOW. And the kids say, “Gee Dad, you’re right”. And that’s that. But in real life it’s much harder.
Now have you noticed that’s the KEY ISSUE Paul’s dealing with here in Galatians. Blending two very different families into ONE Brady Bunch FAMILY IN CHRIST.
Christians from the ISRAEL family… who’ve called God their father for as long as they can remember, all the way back to Abraham.
And Christians from the GENTILE FAMILY… who all their lives have been called UNCLEAN by the Jews. Because they didn’t have God’s old testament law. They’re ring ins. Without any of Israel’s LAWS AND RULES. They’ve heard about Jesus, they’ve TRUSTED IN JESUS; but without any of the background of being JEWISH.
And we saw last time, Paul’s saying to these Christians in Galatia, “Whatever you do, whatever the pressure, don’t be sucked back to the Old Testament LAW. He says, being PART OF THE FAMILY is all about TRUSTING JESUS… not about living by the law.
They’re DIVIDING OVER IT. Jewish ones are saying, “You’ve got to hang on to the Old Testament Law”. The non-Jews are confused. And Paul sums it all up in verse 27 to 29. Right there in the middle of the passage. God’s Family is ONE FAMILY. And to BE ONE, all the old dividing lines have got to go. Verse 27.
“For ALL OF YOU who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither JEW NOR GREEK, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise.
So different. Yet now all the same. All – whether Jewish or Gentile – all counted as part of the family of Abraham. A Brady Bunch family, made up of all kinds of people. The opposite ends of the scale. But all one in Christ Jesus. EVERYONE ON THE SAME FOOTING.
Seed, not seeds
And it’s NOT by keeping THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW. It’s bigger than that. And it goes all the way back to a PROMISE GOD MADE TO ABRAHAM. Look back up to v16.
We talked about it last week. About how God promised Abraham that he’d BLESS him. And that through Abraham, he’d bless the WHOLE WORLD. And he promised to give him lots and lots of FAMILY. And then, he’d give that offspring the LAND.
But, in v16, Paul does something a bit tricky. And it’s all to do with the word SEED. Have a look,
16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.
Now, seed, in this context, means OFFSPRING. And the thing about the word SEED, or OFFSPRING for that matter, is that you use the same word, whether you’re talking about ONE or MANY. ONE seed, Lots of seed. One offspring , LOTS of offspring.
Same thing with FISH. One fish, or a SCHOOL of fish.
Or sheep. ONE sheep. A FLOCK of sheep.
And Paul’s point is, back in Gen 12:7, God makes the promise to Abraham and his SEED. Not SEEDS. Offspring. Not offsprings. One. Not MANY.
God COULD have said “FAMILY”. He COULD have said “children”. The promise was to Abraham and his FAMILY, or his CHILDREN. Perfectly good words for THOSE. But instead God uses the word SEED, which could mean either ONE, or MANY.
And Paul’s point, there in v16, is that God said “SEED”, because he had in mind/ ONE offspring in PARTICULAR – Jesus.
JESUS is the offspring of Abraham / who God promised would be a blessing to the nations. He’d be the one who would be under the curse of sin. And bring blessing instead by becoming a curse for us. The one God promised to give the inheritance of the Spirit to/ so he could then give it to the rest of the family.
And it was all back there BEFORE God gave the law to Moses. Paul’s point is that God’s plan was ETERNAL. He doesn’t chop and change because ONE plan FAILS, so he has to come up with a NEW ONE. It’s ALWAYS been Jesus. And it’s ALWAYS been by FAITH.
And the coming of the law can’t change that.
Paul says it’s just like a WILL. The kids can’t come along AFTER DAD’S DIED, and just pencil in a few changes to the will. Just because they want something different. It’s not legal.
Same with God’s agreement with Abraham. V17.
17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, DOES NOT SET ASIDE THE COVENANT PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED BY GOD and thus do away with the promise.
God promised to BLESS the world through Abraham’s offspring, Jesus. Abraham TRUSTED him, and God credited him as being righteous.
And then when the LAW came along through Moses, it couldn’t CHANGE that agreement. Couldn’t make a NEW way to be blessed by God.
Why the law?
Which leads to the OBVIOUS question, I guess. What was the POINT of the law, then? The bulk of the Old Testament is about the LAW, and how Israel kept it, or failed to keep it – which is more accurate.
Why the law? Paul moves on to that question in v19. It was no problem with the AGREEMENT, he says. Just with people’s ATTITUDE to it.
19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
Transgression means to BREAK the law. Before God gave the law/ people still sinned, but they weren’t consciously breaking God’s law. But once the law came, it became OBVIOUS.
Sin became law-breaking, only when the law was introduced.
The law was like a giant spotlight that shone into the darkness of people’s lives, showing up their sin for what it really was. No denying anymore that what people were doing was AGAINST GOD. Paul says the same thing down in v22.
22 BUT THE SCRIPTURE DECLARES THAT THE WHOLE WORLD IS A PRISONER OF SIN, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Notice how the LAW is only TEMPORARY. Only in force until Jesus would come. There in v19.
added because of transgressions UNTIL THE SEED TO WHOM THE PROMISE REFERRED HAD COME.
A temporary measure, only keeping Jews in line. In check. To show what SIN was. What UNCLEANNESS was. To SEPARATE them. Until something BETTER came along. In fact, until the ORIGINAL plan was put into place. The plan that UNITED rather than DIVIDED.
We get a bit more detail about how the law worked as a stopgap down in v23. And Paul uses two pictures. First, before Jesus came, the law was LIKE A PRISON GUARD for the Jews.
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
The law teaches the Jew God’s demands, and sets out the punishments. Every Jew has broken the law. And so they’re locked up, condemned, waiting for release. That’s what the law does.
The second picture Paul uses is in v24 and 25.
24 So the law was PUT IN CHARGE to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the SUPERVISION of the law.
The word for “put in charge” there in 24 is the same one as “supervision” in 25. And it referred to a babysitter, or governess. It’s where we get the word pedagogy from (to do with TEACHING). The Greek father would hand over responsibility of the children to the SUPERVISOR, often an elderly trusted slave, and they’d be responsible for disciplining and guiding.
And that’s what the law did for the Jews. Until Jesus came. The strict disciplinarian, keeping them in line, keeping them on the straight and narrow, until Jesus came. And the Jews could be put right with the Father by trusting Jesus.
Paul continues that idea into ch 4. Children are heirs – technically, but aren’t entitled to actually inherit anything – till they come of age.
Paul says it’s the same with the Jews. Before Jesus, they were being looked after by their governess – the law. But, as infants, they had no more status than SLAVES. Until (v2) the date set by the Father. When they grew up, and the governess wasn’t needed anymore. And they became HEIRS.
Which is what happened when Jesus came. V4.
4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the FULL RIGHTS OF SONS. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
The law is fired!
Way better than being an INFANT. Or a SLAVE. But a genuine SON or DAUGHTER. A member of the family.
And once Jesus had come, the law’s job, as a prison guard, or a governess, was over. And the shocking conclusion for a Jew is there in v25.
25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
Remember when Paul says WE, he means Jews.
“Since faith in Jesus has arrived, WE JEWS are no longer under the supervision of the law. The prison doors have been opened. The governess has been fired. Dad’s taken over”.
All because of Jesus. The one seed of Abraham. ONE OFFSPRING. Who’s produced ONE FAMILY. Not TWO. Not us and them. Not Jew and Gentile. One family. One SEED. One OFFSPRING. All receiving God’s blessing by faith in THE one offspring Jesus.
Notice how Paul moves from WE – the Jews – in v23. To YOU ALL in v26. You Galatians, you Gentiles, perhaps a few Jews too. And that’s where it gets personal for US.
26 You are ALL sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,.
Now that the wall that separated the two families has gone. The law’s been fired. ALL sons of God.
And then he goes on to explain it further. V27.
27 for ALL of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ
Baptism was their COMMON introduction to membership. Jew or Gentile – everyone was baptised. Everyone needed washing and forgiving.
Baptised INTO Christ means something like being INITIATED INTO THE GROUP of all those Christ REPRESENTS. Signing up as someone who wants Christ to represent you. He represents you as Abraham’s offspring, receiving the blessings of God so that you might join WITH him as offspring.
And “being CLOTHED with Christ” is the same idea. To PUT ON Christ means to take for yourself the benefits Christ has won. To put on his righteousness. To put on his sonship. To put on his inheritance.
And it was something EVERY Christian did, and STILL DOES. The common visible symbol that united this Brady Bunch of God’s new family.
Paul teases out the implications. V28.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There was no wall as high or thick as the one separating Jew and Gentile. But once you’d torn down the law that separated them. And they saw each other standing there, , washed clean in the baptism of Christ, clothed in his righteousness alone, a brand new family united by faith. Then every OTHER barrier or dividing wall, or disagreement, just palls into insignificance. Under Christ, they could ALL be family.
SOCIAL STANDING means nothing. Westy or Eastern Suburbs. Middle class or welfare class. Single or married. Children or childless. None of it matters.
EDUCATION means nothing. Blue collar or white collar. Professional or trade. Renter or home owner.
GENDER doesn’t matter. Male and female. Different ways of thinking. Of relating. Different priorities and ways of solving problems. None of it matters.
Race, ethnicity, upbringing, worship preferences, small differences in theology, age, health, interests. None of it matters.
All barriers are removed. All disagreements can be solved. All misunderstandings worked through.
Bringing together any sort of blended family is TOUGH GOING. No matter what the Brady Bunch tells you. Especially a CHURCH FAMILY.
One of the guys at Mitchell High Scripture, Tommy, was telling us about a Christian black American rap singer he met a few weeks ago. He picked him up from the airport, and they went to Bondi for breakfast. Within 20 minutes they were getting on like a house on fire. Chatting like they were family – which in a way they WERE because they were both Christians. Not much else in common. But Jesus.
And it was really freaking this black guy out. Because he was from a part of America where he hardly ever met white people. His church was completely black. His neighbourhood.
It wasn’t that he had a problem with whites. But it was weird that here he was hanging out with a skinny white dude, and NO ONE EVEN NOTICED. That would never happen where he was from. There’d be strange looks and comments straight away.
Tommy said that was just the way things mostly were in Australia.
Some groups of Christians have got further to go than others.
I wonder if there are some ways we’re up against the same sort of pressures? A bit more subtle maybe? Where are OUR walls?
Why is it some of you don’t even know the names of others? I’m not talking about people who’ve only been here a few weeks. I’m talking about people who’ve been here a YEAR OR MORE. Regulars don’t even KNOW each other.
There’s no excuse. It’s not like we’re so big, you can’t know everyone. Grab an address book. Sit down with it. Put names to faces. Then TALK to them.
Someone said, well, they don’t ever say hello to me. Well, you be first. Be a BRIDGE builder. Not a WALL builder. Christ has already broken down the walls. Let’s not be building them up again.
And when it comes to people OUTSIDE church, let’s be building bridges as well. When it comes to the Movie Night, or Christmas Carols. Jump right in there, and TALK to people. Build bridges. Break down walls.
Because God’s plan was ALWAYS to bring together ONE FAMILY of blessing. A Brady Bunch family made up of all kinds of people. Not under law. But under Jesus. Sometimes people like you. Sometimes very different. But all of us one… in Christ Jesus who we serve. Let’s make sure we LIVE IT.