Read an excerpt from a commentary on Galatians by Augustine of Hippo this morning.  In it, he talked about what it meant to be no longer under the law.  The context, of course, is a “Jewish” Christian “circumcision” group arguing that one could not follow Jesus without following all the Jewish ritual laws.  And, people being people, looking for clear outward signs of being among God’s elect, were ready to ditch Paul as a teacher and follow these new voices.  Augustin says they still wanted to be under the burden of the law.  And he says that sin is taken away, not by law, but only by the gift of faith that works through love.  And I find myself thinking that the modern-day version of Paul’s critics is those Christians who want to impose rules on all of us about dancing and gambling and drinking and whatever else they can cut out of our lives as signs of our purity before God …

Which forms an interesting counterpoint to Francis de Sales (commemorated today in one of my books on saints), who studying the Calvinist doctrine of predestination in Paris, was appalled at the thought he might not be one of the elect.  He eventually decided that even if he was not, ultimately, to be numbered among God’s elect, he could at least love God during his time on earth.  Sounds a lot like Augustine (and Paul):  sin is taken away only through the gift of faith that works through love (grace).  And we are called, simply, to live out that relationship of love during our time on earth.

Of course, those of us with loving, life long relationships know this is an unending, full-time way of life.