whytheology

For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

March 16 Reflection, Galatians 4:8-16

Galatians 4:18-16 KJV

8Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

9But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

10Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

11I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

12Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

13Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

14And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

15Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

16Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

NIV link to text

Losing Friends or Losing Faith?

Paul is bewildered at the behavior of the Galatian church. When he first met the Galatians, he did so under terrible circumstances. Yet, despite the illness he was going through, the Galatians not only cared for him, but did to such an extent that they embodied the command of Christ found in Matthew 25. They accepted the gospel, though it came to them through a weakened vessel; now, they seem to have abandoned it. Paul is very troubled by this. They have gone back to observing the works of the law, to living out a Gospel that requires prior adherence to the old understanding of God’s covenant. They have abdicated their inheritance in favor of being under the law. They have abandoned freedom for the sake of losing responsibility.

Paul has to remind them that this servitude that comes from being under the law is not God. It was merely an intermediary guardian, as we talked about in the past two days. Why would they accept the substitute when they can have the real thing? That is, after all, what the law was. The law acted as a buffer or intermediary between them and a God who is so holy that he is wholly “other.” In Christ, though, we have no need for an intermediary. We couldn’t come directly to God, so God came directly to us. Paul makes it clear, that it is through being known by God that they have this direct access. Why would they ever give it up? Have they forgotten who it is that knows them? Have they abandoned this gospel they once embraced?

What do you think? Are you tempted to think that you have done something to earn salvation? Do you try to do things now to somehow add to your redemption? Have you ever (like Paul) been considered an enemy of someone who once called you friend because you spoke truth in love?

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