Galatians 1:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Sometimes, a tiny word can mean BIG things. It surely does in this passage. Don’t miss the little particle “to” in vs. 4. The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins for a reason, TO, or, in order to. There are a number of these statements in the New Testament that tease out the various aims God had in saving us through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection but I want to focus on just the one mentioned here in this text. He gave Himself for our sins: In order to “deliver us from the present evil age.” And this is according to the will of our God and Father. What is God’s will for your life and mine? At least in part to be delivered from this present evil age.
Salvation is directly aimed at delivering us from being the product of or living under the influence of the wisdom, values and worldview of our (this) evil age. We are saved so as to live distinctly other than the way our contemporaries do in this regard. And, it is the will of God that we do so.
At the same time, we must beware the seduction of the cloister. Our separation from the world is not accomplished by a lack of physical proximity or personal interaction with people – it is in staying separate in our worldviews. It is internal. It will impact how we act externally, but it is a false and deceptive separation to imagine that somehow staying away from unbelievers is how this is accomplished. If physical separation were the key, The Son would never have been incarnate.
The art and skill of swimming cannot be learned by determining never to go in the water. It can only be accomplished by being IN the water. And like it or not, we are born into this world, not outside of it. Now Christians need to be sure we don’t drink in the world. That is drowning. But navigating its waters – that is part of our call. May we learn to trust in Christ’s indwelling Spirit to keep us afloat, and rescue others in the process.
Christ died to deliver us from this age, not so we could continue being dominated by its values, opinions and practices. We are swimming in this age. But not swimming as though in a boundless ocean. No, we are swimming toward the shore on the other side of the Jordan. Swimming toward home. Swimming to where we will forever be with Christ in perfect holiness.