“Barbarian’s cherished above most all other virtues- freedom. Freedom to live, love and laugh, freedom to be who they were, freedom to work, sweat and bleed to better their lot…”
In the early days of the church a debate raged amongst the Jewish believers and apostles: ‘What do we do with all these gentiles, these barbarians, who are believing in our Messiah and receiving the Holy Spirit?’ They are uncircumcised, ignorant of the Law of God and just downright unholy!’
So they have a little meeting in Jerusalem—the Barbarian Council— and debate the matter. But the evidence of the Holy Spirit is indisputable and the words of Jesus and the prophets of old leave them little choice but to concede that yes, these barbarian hordes coming to f
aith in Jesus are ordained and loved of God. So they write a letter to the churches with a list of all the laws, all the rule they must adhere to in order to be citizens in good standing in the Kingdom of heaven and it all boils down to this—over 700 commands from the Old Covenant of the law now replaced by a Covenant of Grace and power and a few suggestions to help avoid the pitfalls of the enemy. Here is that list from their letter:
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell. Acts:15:28, 29
That’s it, all that the law required from the new believers summed up in one sentence; be careful what you eat, and keep your pants on. Seems like a strange requirement but these things all had to do with worshipping pagan Gods. So basically, they were being told: Worship the one true God and him alone.
The barbarian way of life, the driving force, the reason they fought and resisted the Roman onslaught, the Greek invasion before that, the reason they lived in the north where the civilized were afraid or ill prepared and unwilling to survive, was because they cherished above most all other virtues- freedom. Freedom to live, love and laugh, freedom to be who they were, freedom to work, sweat and bleed to better their lot for themselves and their families. Even the freedom to fail and to die in the trying was better than slavery in the wealthiest house.
Theirs was a love of the creation that both challenged and rewarded them when they met that challenge. And now they were being offered another level of freedom by the very God who created it all, and them—Jesus. Jesus the Jewish Messiah, a man who was crucified by the civilized purveyors of a religion that seemingly offered anything but freedom, was now offering freedom. Freedom from the one thing they still feared and could not overcome by the sword—death. Always, death came for all of them no matter how bravely they fought and lived. Their legends of what lay beyond was a mystery shrouded in an enigma and their superstitions of god’s and powers beyond their comprehension and control were a constant threat and weighed heavily on the barbarian heart.
Then along comes these Hebrew vagrants, exiles from their own land and people telling them of a man who claimed to be a Son of God, who overcame death and proved it by walking out of the tomb three days dead and cold. A God become a man, who offered not a meager hope of just another day to toil and strive hoping to find favor in the sight of another petty and spiteful god, but eternal life, a chance to be forgiven for everything they have ever done that their hearts and better instincts had told them was wrong.
Here was a God offering peace and reconciliation to the creator of the heavens and the earth. And to prove it his Spirit was being poured out on them in tangible ways that they could see, hear and feel, simply for the asking, giving them a hope not just for the next life, but for this one as well. Here indeed was true freedom.
The barbarian heart thrives in the freedom of our Lord and in the power of his Holy Spirit. The very kingdom of God thrives in the heart of the barbarian, the Barbarian with a Bible.
That Bible being made up of the letters that the apostles who took part in that first barbarian council wrote to the churches that were springing up far and wide amongst the gentile barbarians, ensuring that the message of freedom that brings peace and hope, strength, courage and freedom to all people would not be forgotten, lost or perverted.
se who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” Galatians 3:8-10
The New Testament, the words written to confirm and verify that the freedom of the new law—the law of love, joy, peace patience goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control—would not be lost or swallowed up ever again by religious demands and burdens that we, the mighty uncivilized, fearsome and untamed barbarian, could not carry or tolerate. The barbarian heart cannot thrive for long in the shackles of religion, God knows this, the Apostles knew this and if you are honest with yourself—you know this. As we allow ourselves to get civilized and sophisticated we lose sight of this. That is why the church is slowly but surely fading away, that is why we need barbarians to stand up and say: “Enough! I am who I am; I am a child of God and I am free!” “I have the word of God written on my heart and on my mind, I have the Spirit of the living God empowering my soul to overcome my flesh and the enemy, and I have a Bible, the sword of the Spirit, and I’m not afraid to use it!”
We need to tell that religious spirit that threatens to destroy us- “Take your rules and condemnations, your demands and your never ending circular and meaningless theologies, you’re my way is right and your way is wrong methodologies, and take a long walk off a short pier because my ship is no longer tied to your pier.” “My ship is following the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to the promised land, but first we are going to stop at the gates of hell where we are going to kick butt and set the captives free!”
Maybe we need another Barbarian council; I think the Holy S
pirit is already there and the invitations have been sent.
Come to me you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Bottom line is, God is extending his hand to all peoples, come home my children, barbarians and all.
-From Barbarians in the Kingdom by Dan Swaningson