Thoughts on Galatians, part 5

I figure I've got to get a move on with this Galatians series or we'll still be doing in it in November!

Galatians 4:9 and 10 says, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? "

I've mentioned that a major theme of this book is the emphasis on salvation by grace--not by observance of the Old Testament law--even though some religious leaders were teaching these false ideas to the Galatian church. In continuing to defend the true teaching on grace opposed to law, Paul asks another of his razor-sharp questions (another feature of this book: the intensity). He uses the term, "know God" and then corrects himself to, "rather, are known by God" perhaps indicating that no mortal man can claim to KNOW God. We are too limited to make that claim, but we can claim the far more important fact that we are KNOWN by God.

To be known by God means that I'm no longer lost, no longer searching, no longer drifting in a black void of the unknown. I'm known by God, in all the richness that it represents. One of my favorite worship songs says, "He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls and hears me when I call." All of the intimacies of a relationship with God Himself combine in that one phrase: known by God.

I've been unknown before. Most of the time I didn't like it. One night in particular, I wanted to be known no matter what the cost. In my sophomore year of college, I was friends with some older students and before they graduated, they wanted to play some pranks that would be remembered long after they were gone. So in the wee hours of the morning, we set out to do mischief to the flagpole and other stuff. We were over on the boys side of the campus, facing their dormitories, about to do out next prank when we were surprised (more like shocked) to find out the boys had been tipped off to our presence and were hiding in the bushes to catch us in the act. In the darkness, hiding in the shadows of the theater building, we thought we were alone in our stealth, until one of the boys called out and scared us. We screamed and jumped, as nearly 30 guys popped out of the bushes surrounding us. We all took off running in different directions. I headed straight back toward the most deserted section of the campus, sure that the guys were in hot pursuit behind me. I ran and ran until finally I came to an abandoned handball court. Brush had grown up all around the large wall, and I was crouched against it, my heart pounding from the adrenaline and the running. I sat there staring out at pitch blackness. I was so far from the inhabited part of the campus that no lights were visible. I could only hear my heartbeat, and my whole being was concentrated on hearing those guys coming through the bushes to catch me. I was so on edge that I was scared of every tiny rustle in the brush, and after a long time of hiding in that scary place, I decided I would rather get caught than stay on that black, creepy court with my every nerve on high alert.

I went trudging back to the streetlights next to the theater, knowing that the guys would laugh at me for getting caught in our pranks. "Being known" was far better to me than being unknown and lost in the fearsome darkness of the back side of campus all night. The funny thing is that I wasn't the only girl who had escaped, only to come back and get teased, because she didn't want to be "forgotten" in some hiding place alone.

Many people exist spiritually in that darkness, in a void that is fearful and vulnerable. They do not know God, nor are they in a relationship with God to be "known by Him." That great treasure comes when our sins are covered by the blood of Christ and we enter into a reconciled relationship with God.

Paul's poignant question is valid: why exchange that great relationship for a weaker, more miserable existence?
Ariel Rainey