15 For[d] neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. 18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters.[e] Amen.
Paul was one of the most prolific writers among the early followers of Jesus. Thirteen of the letters included in our New Testament come to us under Paul’s name and influence. The early church considered Paul’s words to churches and church leaders to be scripture – the very Word of God. In wondering what God might say to us in our time, I have been reading the closing remarks in some of Paul’s letters.
Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia is the only one of his correspondences that does not begin with a thanksgiving. Paul’s relationship with this group of Christians has deteriorated as people have challenged his telling of the good news of Jesus, as they are dividing Christ’s followers based on the Jewish religious practice of circumcision. (Paul calls the people who claim that true Christians must perform this type of work “mutilators of the flesh.”) The letter to the Galatians shows that, even in the body of Christ, being unified is not an easy task. True unity can only be achieved by God’s grace.
God’s grace is shown in the work that Jesus did for each of us on the cross. God’s grace is unconditional love shown to us by the God who made us and saves us. God’s grace is undeserved reconciliation. God’s grace is letting God’s love wash over us, and flow out from us to others.
Paul started his letter to the Christians in Galatia without his traditional recounting of how thankful he was for the relationship he had with them (because that relationship had been threatened by great points of conflict). But Paul ended this letter with the same desire he had for all Christians —-
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters.
When we truly want that for every child of God, we are one step closer to being together with them in God’s family.
God, let me accept Your gracious love in Jesus, and pray that Your grace will be known by all the people I encounter this day. Amen.