Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1.3-5From David King
Throughout my life I have struggled with my weight – it has fluctuated up and down. One of the consequences of this is that I know well the experience of ill-fitting clothes. I still remember how horribly self-conscious I was as a boy at school when my weight meant that my shirts were stretched across my chest and tummy. To this day, I don’t like tight-fitting t-shirts or shirts. At other times I’ve gone into my cupboard to get my suit (a relatively rare occurrence) only to find it hanging off me like a tent.
The thing about wearing clothes that do not fit properly is that you are constantly aware of the fact – you never feel right. On the other hand, when I put on a pair of jeans and the waist is just right, neither so tight that you feel like you are wearing a corset, nor so loose that you fear that they will end up round your ankles – it feels so right and so comfortable.
As I was reading this verse I was struck by the question: If the society and culture in which we live was an item of clothing, how good a fit would it feel? As a follower of Jesus, do I expect our culture with all of its beliefs, rituals, values and priorities to feel like a comfortable fit?
Paul in his letter from Galatians describes our ‘age’, our culture, as “the present evil age”. He didn’t just mean the culture in his day, as ‘age’ for him described the whole of human history from Adam to the end of time. He then says that we have been rescued from this present evil age through the forgiveness of our sins. In other words, we have been rescued for a different age, a new age, one in which sin does not rule. And it’s not just Paul who says this, Jesus says it (John 15.18-21) and Peter says it (1 Peter 2.9-12).
So our culture, our society will make us feel uncomfortable – it should feel ill-fitting – like an uncomfortable shirt – our culture should give us a self-conscious sense that we don’t fit in it. It is vital for us to grasp this and to expect it. As our culture changes and moves away from its Christian heritage, if we expect to feel as if we should fit in it and it fits us, we will be drawn away from salvation as we try to change in order to keep on fitting in. If instead we expect to feel uncomfortable, we will not be shaken – in fact feeling uncomfortable will start to feel comforting to us. When I put on my over-sized suit, it did look like a sack of potatoes on me, but it was also strangely comforting as I was reminded of the weight I had lost.
So, as you hold to the Bible and then hear what our culture believes about sex, life, truth, identity and what it means to be human and fulfilled, you should feel uncomfortable. But when you do, you should also be comforted that it is a sign that you have been rescued “from the present evil age.”