Enslaved by Work

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us… so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to everyone. Galatians 3:13-14

On Sunday morning I preached at my Church on the passage cited above. This post is a reflection on the practical application this message has brought to my own life. I hope this post will help you find similar insight for your own life.

But first, a little background:

This passage is part of a letter written by a church planter, named Paul, who is urging his friends in the Church at Galatia not to submit to being ruled by a foreign code of ethics, namely the Jewish Torah. Jewish Torah is a way the Jewish people express their special elect status before God, and their faithfulness to God. The Greeks and Romans, however, didn’t quite get Torah. For the Greeks and Romans, Torah did not remind them of their special elect status or faithfulness to God, but rather seemed more like a few hoops they had to jump through to join God’s people. Paul writes his letter to his beloved Church explaining that they don’t need to submit to Jewish Torah to enjoy God.

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Paul points out that Jesus has set them free from all slavery and cursing so why would they voluntarily enslave themselves to another system which breeds curse? Since Sunday I have been reflecting on what are the things in my life that I am currently allowing to bully and oppress me. I realised this morning that my study is a really oppressive force in my life, and that the book of Galatians is challenging me to reform my attitude to study. (For those who don’t know, I am currently a PhD candidate so study is my full time job.) Below, I outline some ways in which my study rules over me, and some resolutions to help me move towards a more healthy work practice.

  1. Study demands so much of my time, just like many people’s occupation. In many ways this is a necessity, but if we are not careful, our occupation can consume our whole lives. Resolution 1: Limit the amount of time I devote to study.
  2. When I’m working on a particular problem or piece I am writing I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. The end result is that study ends up consuming all my emotional energy which means even when I’m doing something else I’m not really present. Resolution 2: Emotionally detach from study to be present more with friends and family.
  3. I am so invested and focussed on what I’m doing that my mental health suffers. When I hit a setback or snag I find myself falling into a deep depression. Resolution 3: Create some distance between by emotions and the progress of my study by doing study, while refusing to become study. (For a plumber, this might mean doing plumbing, while refusing to allow their emotional wellbeing to be controlled by plumbing).

Perhaps some of these insights and resolutions of mine resonate with where you are here and now. What is currently ruling over you and bringing curse to your life? It could be unhealthy attitude to work (like me), destructive thought patterns (oh, I’ll have to write another post about that sometime), or perhaps a toxic relationship. Paul’s assertion that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse so that everyone might receive blessing” challenges us to throw off the burden of oppressive practices and thought patterns in pursuit of the promised blessing.

 

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