” . . . when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” ~Galatians 4:4-6
I both love and hate being alone. As an introvert, I need and enjoy time alone everyday. Along with sleep, of course, it’s what I need to recover, recoup, and recharge each day (the alliteration was not premeditated).
But as an introvert, I also hate being alone . . . too much, that is. My inner voice can knock me around pretty hard. The voice inside my head can easily forget to remind me of the good news of the Gospel. Instead of encouraging me by repeatedly reminding me that I am God’s beloved son in the Beloved Son, it can discourage me by relentlessly rehearsing all the ways that I have failed to love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind, and my neighbor as myself. Rehearsing failure without remembering Jesus’ success on my behalf does not lead to confession and the pursuit of holiness. It leads to more failure.
Recently, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the word our in Galatians 4:4-6. I think it is critical that we modern-day Bible readers don’t allow our individualistic mindset to cloud our understanding of what Paul is doing in these verses. He’s writing “to the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2). Yes, these churches in Galatia were full of individuals, but Paul was not so much addressing individuals (though he was) as he was addressing the corporate bodies of believers that were living in Galatia. ”So,” you may be asking, “how should the corporate focus of Paul’s words guide how we understand and apply Galatians 4:4-6?”
My tendency is to read and understand these verses primarily with reference to myself personally. For example, when meditating on Galatians 4:6, I naturally remind myself, “Because I am a son, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into my heart, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’.” Although this truth is certainly true of me (and you), Paul is not so much addressing me as an individual as he is addressing the corporate body of believers with whom I am united (and the corporate body with whom you are united): “And because you [plural] are sons [plural], God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts [plural], crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” When my focus is primarily me and not our, I lose one of the major benefits of these verses.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the downsides of my introverted tendencies is that my inner voice can relentlessly rehearse all the ways that I have failed God and my neighbor. Often, even when I realize what I’m doing and begin to remind myself that I am God’s child, it’s not enough to pull me out of my downward spiral. I need other voices speaking the truth of what Jesus has done into my head—and I suspect you do, too (whether you’re an introvert or extrovert). One reason Paul tells us that we are God’s children and that God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts is so that we realize that we need each other to remember the good news of the Gospel. As Sinclair Ferguson has written:
Despite assumptions to the contrary—the reality of the love of God for us is often the last thing in the world to dawn upon us. As we fix our eyes upon ourselves, our past failures, our present guilt, it seems impossible to us that the Father could love us. Many Christians go through much of their life with the prodigal’s suspicion. Their concentration is upon their sin and failure; all their thoughts are introspective (Children of the Living God, p 27).
It’s funny (well, not actually funny), when I’m spiraling downward, I tend not to believe the good news I’m telling myself. But I do tend to believe others when they remind me of the good news of the Gospel. That’s why, even as an introvert, I treasure being with the people of God.
Yes, I still enjoy and need my alone time. But what I have found is that I need other believers regularly reminding me of the Gospel more than I need to be alone. After all, Jesus both lived and died for me and you. For us.
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