Made for Love
Paul sets up a sharp contrast: either saved by faith or ensnared in laws. Faith or Law? Would Jewish converts worship alongside Gentile converts as one community? In the faith tradition that goes back to Abraham, we belong together.
Paul knew the lure of extremism. In his early years, he had strictly enforced right and wrong, clean and unclean. Those who strayed were punished. Paul knew firsthand the zeal that destroys. How a sense of obligation unleashed can become obsession. The temptation is familiar. Like a teacher who loads up assignments to crush her students’ ignorance. Why not read Kant’s First Critique in a first philosophy class? We heap up burdens in homage to some fixed expectation. Intent on compliance, we overlook the real state of our hearts.
Nothing transforms narrow ideas like relationships. Faith begins here. An encounter with another, even fleeting, is to brush up against mystery. Sharing a meal with strangers or spending a night under their roof may reshape my life. The murmur of lives all around can enlarge my sense of belonging. Paul traveled for years. He stayed in many towns and felt human struggle up close. He organized faith communities. Harsh injunctions gave way to finding Christ in the midst of messy lives. Over and over Paul learned the lessons of love.
On the journey of faith, we are touched by many lives and fashioned by many stories. Every relationship leaves its trace. Time and again we awaken to the primacy of love. Through it all, God’s presence is felt.
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