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DAY 20: Embracing God’s Inclusive Covenant

In wrestling with the intricate tapestry of Jewish law and the expansive grace of Christ’s teachings, Paul faced a challenging paradox. His deep-rooted convictions about the God of Israel clashed with the question of how Gentile believers should engage with Jewish customs. This tension forms a central theme in Paul’s writings, particularly evident in his letters to the Galatians and Romans.

Paul’s belief in the singular sovereignty of the God of Israel, who liberated His people from Egyptian bondage and bestowed upon them the divine law, stood unshaken. Yet, Paul’s understanding of salvation extended beyond ethnic boundaries. He ardently held that Gentiles need not adopt Jewish customs to partake in God’s redemptive plan—a stance that raised profound questions about the enduring relevance of Jewish law.

The crux of Paul’s reconciliation lies in his profound interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. Amidst the complexities of Jewish law, Paul grasped onto Jesus’ revolutionary commandment: “love one another.” In this, Paul discerned not merely a directive but the very essence of the divine law—a fulfillment that transcends legalistic adherence. Thus, Paul asserts that faith in Christ, grounded in love, supersedes the meticulous observance of Jewish customs.

However, Paul’s letters do not offer a systematic framework for discerning which aspects of the Jewish law are binding for Gentile believers. Instead, he fervently emphasizes the principle of faith as the pathway to righteousness and inclusion in God’s family. Paul’s impassioned defense against the imposition of Jewish customs upon Gentile believers underscores his unwavering conviction: salvation is by faith alone.

As we reflect on Paul’s struggle to reconcile Jewish law with Christian faith, let us ponder the profound implications for our own journey of faith. How do we navigate the tension between tradition and grace in our lives? How can we embody the transformative power of Christ’s love in our relationships and communities? Let us embrace Paul’s timeless message: faith in Christ alone is the key to justification before God.

Key Verse:
“… know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” ~ Galatians 2:16

Questions to ponder:

  • Reflect on a time when you felt pressure to conform to certain religious or cultural practices to be accepted by others. How did this experience shape your understanding of faith and belonging?
  • In what ways have you seen faith produce good deeds in your own life or the lives of others? How does genuine faith manifest in acts of love, kindness, and compassion?
Adapted from Britannica: The Biography of St. Paul the Apostle
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