Adoption & children
I didn't want this thread on Chapter 4 to slip into oblivion without talking about the great theme of adoption. Paul says in many places that we move from being slaves under the law into being children of God.
Paul didn't have the canonical Gospels as we know them, but he probably knew of the sayings of Jesus, and he did have contact with people who knew Jesus during his time on earth. And, of course, Paul had that mystical encounter on the road to Damascus. But all I have is the Gospels, and I do recall that Jesus said repeatedly that we have to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus was flustered. What, do I have to enter into my mother's womb again? But Jesus insisted on a rebirth.
The fundamentalist mindset has ruined the term "born again" for me. Paul's insight was that this rebirth meant liberation from the chains of sin and death. We cry, "Papa," and the Spirit and our spirits witness together as one.
Not all adopted children have the good fortune to experience their childhoods as rescue or deliverance, but that's what this passage and others mean to me. Left to my own devices, I am unsavable. But the power of God to turn me into a child again trumps the sin in my life. Now, that's something to give a fag like me hope.
When you can transform the war and violence in yourself, then you can truly begin to help others find peace. Thich Nhat Hanh