For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal. 5:6)

WHY WAS JESUS and His message of grace such a threat to the religious of His day? How is it even a problem in ours? What is it about God’s offer of freedom from the law through its fulfillment in His Son? Could it be because humankind would have never conceived of such a plan?

Throughout the ages into our present time, in many parts of the world, people still suffer under the bonds of slavery. These accounts don’t often make the mainstream news but are, nonetheless, practices most of us would find abhorrent—so much so that various social justice organizations actively attempt to rescue its victims and prosecute its perpetrators.

Yet it’s no different today in spiritual matters. Unless we walk by God’s Spirit, we are subjecting ourselves to a “yoke of slavery.” In Paul’s day, circumcision was the issue for new believers. This carryover from Jewish law wouldn’t die in the minds of a certain sect of converts. But Paul’s words to the Galatians are blunt and forceful: “You who are trying to be justified by law . . . have fallen away from grace . . . Christ will be of no value to you at all.”

God’s Son was sent to give us His righteousness by means of the cross. It is a completed work that opened the door to power, love, hope, and acceptance.

How do we still fall from grace by seeking to keep an obligation to a life of bondage? Why is that practice more desirable than a Spirit-led obedience based on faith?

Don’t settle for less than Jesus’ intended offering of grace.

Beth Weikel is the author of the upcoming Hope in the Midst of Loss (May 2015; WPH) about the challenges and suffering of grief.