The bean counters write that only about 35% of us read some Scripture at least once a week. In order of reader preference the book of Galatians comes in at about #4. Paul’s fight to lift up the message as one of mercy and salvation for all people places him in the position of challenging the Jewish leaders and there is a subdued anger as he declares “If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” Paul is facing two very real threats to the gospel. We see this same method at work in today’s world as social and cultural pressures come against the church and God’s word. They, the Jews, attacked Paul’s apostleship, many saying he was not an apostle at all, thus casting doubt on his gospel message. Personal attacks are a favorite tool of dissenters, they marginalize a person’s credibility and distract from their message. So as they sought to marginalize Paul’s message they also attacked the gospel. This was the struggle that had become a battle, and Paul knew it had to be fought. One key fact was that even though there were Jews who had accepted Christianity they held to the belief that all God’s promises and gifts were for Jews alone and God’s promises were for them alone. Simply put, they were never meant to be for the Gentiles.
There are many things at play here in these verses but Paul is a great example of a person who knows the glory and grace of God and add to that the fact that he knew we can never save ourselves. When his apostleship was questioned he did not present an argument to counter their statements, he simply stated that his authority and his calling had been given to him direct from God. He recalled that day on the Damascus Road when he had met Jesus Christ face to face. For many of us there have been times when we were unknowingly in the presence of God but the things of this life were stronger than our human ability to discern his presence. Paul was certain that God had spoken to him. It is not the vows we take to the church or organization within the church, nor the precepts of any chosen denomination that matters. The thing that matters is, have we come face to face with Jesus? This is critical to our christian faith. As with all things of such magnitude it always will depend on the certainty of the believer, the strength of their faith and then being able to discern God calling them to a specific task. The calling or task if you wish may seem huge and impossible, demanding of us the discipline of a Paul who saw every task as God given and worthy of our best effort. One truth of Christian faith is that we all have a God given task and it is our duty to see it through. Even the most simple of things becomes important to the faith when God calls his people to a task that serves the faith and his people. Paul’s God given task was to share the good news with the world. A large task indeed. Maybe for each of us it is to simply evangelize those around us as we go about our daily lives. It could well be that we are to live a holy life so that others might see Christ in us. Have you found your Damascus Road yet? We have a wonderful message to share. There is of course the undeserved gift in the generous love of God. Paul gave and suffered but for him the power and love of Jesus Christ overcame all and freed many from the bondage of sin. We have been called and chosen, will you answer?
Life is Good