So… I have to tell you. I love Paul. Bible Paul, New Testament Paul… Incredible, I don’t care what you say to me, I am following Jesus, Paul. What I would give to have a tenth of his courage, and charisma in spreading the gospel. I hide behind a keyboard and monitor to proclaim the Gospel to those I am too afraid to reach in person. Don’t get me wrong, I am out there in person as well, but it’s different. Isn’t it? To see someone struggle openly and reach out to them in the name of Jesus vs. someone seeking information online and then finding it here.
When Paul speaks he sounds like I do in my head. Encouraging, yet practical. Real, yet expectant. He acknowledges the Human Condition, and calls it flesh. He see’s sin and is blatantly able to call it sin. When I used to read Paul’s work (a.k.a. ordained word of God, that Paul could not have written alone) I was always critical, because I felt he said everything in an admonishing tone. (Who wants to read someone yelling at you) Sometimes it arguably is. Other times though, I think he was just trying to get through to the people, and most often, he wanted to help them to turn towards Jesus, truth and life.
When I see my children do wrong, I begin with a soft word, a tone worthy of the action. Normally a gentle, “Please stop”, followed by “Stop”, “Obey the first time”, and then as we progress, “This is your last opportunity”. As we as parents know, it changes depending on the situation at hand, there are moments when a gentle word would be a mistake, because tragedy would follow. There are times a sharp retort is necessary to garner the attention of a child holding a butter knife near an electrical outlet. (Don’t come take my children away, they never did that… I gave them steak knives… Just Kidding!) Needless to say, the reaction I give has to equal the action. I find that Paul did just that. He reacts according to the action.
Let’s read Galatians 1
1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father,who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me, (Don’t you Love Him… He always makes sure you know, that He is not the one. He is not the main act.)
To the churches in Galatia:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Can you see them, the body of Galatia, preening… Paul is writing to them and it seems so kind, grace and peace… and then wham!)
No Other Gospel
6 I am astonished (youch) that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. (This is happening every day in our society. The gospel is perverted… Christians even believe that marriage is to make us happy… fact: Marriage was created by God for the glory of God. Happiness is not a part of the promises of the Lord. Joy… that comes from deep within is a promise of the Lord. Job found joy even in heartbreak beyond what most of us will ever experience in this life.) 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Paul, bless him, likes to issue reminders. He makes sure that he tells you again, kinda like when I say, “Cash make sure that you get your jacket before you leave the house”. As he is leaving without his jacket, I say again, “Cash, you remembered your jacket right”? I knew Cash didn’t have his jacket, but I issue a reminder vs. a admonishment.)
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Ow… Paul you hurt. but you speak the truth.)
We have the ability to gain courage, to be bold, to stand for something. If I go to a hair salon, also known as my mom and I want my hair one color and she gives me a color completely different than what I asked for intentionally, I will be upset enough to speak. If someone speaks against the Biblical principles in my presence I will often stand silent, some days because I am praying for wisdom in how I handle the situation, and other times I am in sin, because I am intimidated by the group of people I am around in the situation. There is more for us. If we will listen to Paul and his repeated warnings, and apply the message to our thoughts, and actions we have the potential to create disciples of Jesus. People who just need someone to speak life and truth to them. People that are hurting are desperate for us. They are needing the healer, and we know Him! How can we stay silent? How can we claim to be His followers when we are not living by the true gospel, but instead are being swayed by the culture and our society. We have a choice to make. Who will we be? When the world is hurting, seriously; heartbreakingly hurting from divorce, from homes being ripped apart in anger, in desperation, and a sea of innocent hurting children in our midst, we have the answer. How can we withhold it?
Let us pray together today, that the Lord would reveal to us the ways that we can change, to be bold and courageous. To go beyond our four walls and reach a hurting world. There is no pain, no suffering that isn’t healed by the blood of Jesus on the cross. His loves covers a multitude of sins and years of pain and anguish. He is our all in all. The great restorer.