This verse was written on a board in one of the classrooms at church a few weeks ago and I was rather pleased to see it and to be reminded to stand firm in not submitting to a new yoke.
That is the message Paul was conveying to the Galatian church; don’t move back under law when you have been given freedom in Christ. Their situation was fairly logical for first century believers. Ethnic Jews among the population were claiming that once someone claimed Christ as savior that they had to undertake the symbolism of the Old Covenant and be circumcised. But Christ came to fulfill the law and give us freedom to live for him unencumbered by the old law.
Paul makes clear that when we add anything to Christ we have missed the point.
While not many of us are attempting to burden new believers with physical covenants we just can’t help ourselves and we are constantly adding more than grace requires of our faith. We create tiers of Christianity and reserve the top spots for those most obedient and well behaved. Our self-righteousness runs amuck and we think ourselves more spiritual, closer to Christ, than others. Even in my proclamation of grace I am prone to think that I have an exclusive claim on the truth and others preaching a lesser gospel are to be despised. How silly we are.
“For freedom Christ has set us free.” This is not literary flourish. This is the truth of the good news of Jesus. This is the gospel of grace. The moment we neglect preaching freedom, we preach a new burden, a new yoke and we sling guilt rather than grace. Our freedom drives us to love our neighbors not be depressed at our inability to fulfill a checklist of good behaviors or hold the right political views.
Christian, be unburdened today. Through grace you are free. Christ has not saved you to leave you to gain something else by merit. He will empower you to love and to become more like him. Rest in that grace and freedom.
Cast off the new yokes we try to put on you and go play.