A little context helps to better understand this verse. Remember that it comes right after the verses where Paul calls out his Galatian friends for being foolish (for mixing in Old Testament requirements in with the ‘law’ of Christ). Paul and his peers didn’t realize they were living in the century when the New Testament would be written; they didn’t realize that Paul himself would author thirteen books of it. They didn’t know that, within their lifetimes, Jerusalem and all it’s Old Testament, Jewish traditions would be destroyed by the Romans. They didn’t know that Rome would soon begin three hundred years of persecuting the church of Jesus before a Roman emperor himself would be baptized and join the Christian faith.
They didn’t know that people would still be reading from Paul’s inspired words over two thousand years later. Yet so much had happened and their world had been turned upside down through this new faith given by the Son of God Himself. Perhaps the Galatians were overwhelmed, confused, easily manipulated. Perhaps so much had happened in the world and following this Jesus was all so new that they simply didn’t know any better but to add in established, even comforting, practices that had served their forefathers well.
They didn’t know it was in vain. News flash: we don’t either.
We don’t need rock bands to play modern music that you hear on Christian radio just to get people into church. Equally true, we don’t need to stick to only strict liturgy and hymns of old to better worship the Lord. We don’t need ornate buildings or big worship warehouses. We don’t need bigger, better gimmicks or detailed programs to address every demographic. And we don’t need hundreds of bloggers – or even me – telling us what we don’t need to best follow Jesus. All of that is vain, and is in vain.
All we need is Jesus. He accomplished everything for both our salvation and the lessons on how to live a life of peace here on the Third Rock. Jesus left us His Word to heal all our spiritual wounds (and more than a few physical ones). Jesus left us His Spirit to come into our lives, scour out the hurt, and put us on His better path. Jesus lives in each of us who follow Him, working His Kingdom miracles through our heats, hands, and lives.
Did you know that?
Paul did. The Galatians did, or at least they did when they first heard Paul’s ministry. When they started to add to it, they lost focus and started living in vain.
For further reading: Galatians 3:5
Lord Jesus, I know You. I know You alone are the way to eternal salvation. That in You alone is love and peace.
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