All or nothing

All or nothing

Galatians part 1

The book of Galatians is a one of the earliest of Paul’s letters to the early churches. Its theme is that there is no difference between people.

Paul, an a apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:1-10 ESV.

Let me tell you a story:

An architect had designed a store in South Africa during the apartheid years for all the people, black, coloured and white. He comes back to see that it is being built with two doors, one for whites and one for none-whites, who would not have access to all the stores departments.

“Why are you not sticking to my plans,” he asks.

“Because this is how we build things here,” is the reply.

How do you think he would feel?

This is Paul’s dilemma writing to the Galatians.

This is a Church that Paul has founded and taught that there is no difference between Jew and non-Jew, yet he has heard that there are some that have come into the church saying that in order to be a Christian you have to first become like the Jews, obeying laws such as circumcision. Like the architect in the story above Paul is not happy.

Paul goes on:

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely a zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Ga!latians 1:11-17
Here are Paul’s credentials. He was an ultra orthodox Jew who is now preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, to non Jews.

There are parallels with the Prophet Elijah here. Elijah knew that God was a God of fire. He called the fire of God down on his enemies and when opposing the prophets of Baal. Elijah knew that when the law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai that there was fire, earthquake and wind. But Elijah had to go back to Sinai to find that God also can speak in the quiet. Paul mentions going to Arabia, which is where Sinai is situated. Paul is saying that his authority is from God like that of Moses and Elijah. Something that would not be lost on the Jewish Christians who were insisting on Jewish law being followed.

Today we are often like the Galatians church. Not in the following of Jewish customs and laws, but the church has a long history of putting people into different categories. In the apartheid era of South Africa it was by skin colour. Today there is debate about sexuality. Is the way the church is debating this issue putting up barriers that prevent people from coming to Christ? How can we be true to the Gospel without any barriers?

This is a debate which is pretty strong in Anglicanism,and is moving along at the. Anglican Church’s usual snails pace. I pray that everyone would be as acceptable to the church as they are to God.

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