Sermon: Justified through faith in Jesus Christ, Galatians 2.15-21 with Luke 15.

IntroDo you have any house rules in your family? Things that if you don’t follow you feel very uncomfortable? I remember the couple who found that early married life was a bit of a struggle, because they argued in the kitchen! The pot of sugar was never where they thought it ought to be. He said it should be with the coffee and tea, she said it ought to be with the flour and dried fruit. They had to negotiate.

This section of the Galatians letter of St Paul is explaining that the freedom we are offered in Jesus Christ comes not from obedience to rules and regulations, but from a trusting relationship with God.

Jesus Christ offered his life that all the wrong things in the world might be made right. That all the injustice of the world might be resolved. That our personal stories might be made whole. But this would be true for us, not by detailed observance of the legal code, but by placing our lives into God’s hands, and accepting his forgiveness and restoration.

The biblical word is ‘justification’ – ‘just as if I had never sinned.’ It is not only that we are forgiven, which is totally wonderful. It is also that God acts to put right the things that have gone wrong. He has the power to change people and situations.

We may know freedom as Christians, freedom to live without fear and in joy, because we stand forgiven at the cross of Jesus Christ.

And we are all exactly the same. Not one of us has the power to make ourselves perfect. The law of God shows us where we have gone awry, and keeps us sensitive. But all of us are free to come to God in faith, and trust him for new life.

The brokenness of our world continues, however, the freedom of Christ will allow us to enter that brokenness with his help, and we are asked to join in the work of restoration to the glory he intends.

How do we get there, if we are still unsure? Let us remember the story in the Gospel. The lost sheep has wandered off, and the shepherd goes in search. We can pray a simple prayer now, and entrust ourselves to the God who loves us immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, and will search for us to welcome us home, as the shepherd in the story.

Rev’d Dr Marion de Quidt. 8.30am. Rotherwick. Sunday 12th June 2016