Galatians is the Magna Carta of spiritual emancipation!

This alien land which lies between Asia in the west and Cappadocia, Cilicia, and Syria to the east is a land of fertile plains, temperate climate, and copious rivers. It is a land abounding in natural resources and trafficked by caravans of commerce. From the mercantile merchants, a considerable amount of goods and services pass into and through its borders.

This land is home to a heterogeneous population that is made up of Phrygians, Syrians, Cretians, Romans, Greeks, Jews, and Gauls.

As a result, Galatia was a melting pot of customs, cults, rituals, religions, philosophies, and the resultant socio-economic realities. The diversity of Galatian culture was nowhere more apparent than in their practice of the Phrygian’s religion, which was adopted by the Gauls and practiced by the general populace.  The Galatian’s religion was marked by a demonstrative nature-worship that was both sensual and startling to the zealous Jew.

This Apostle Paul enters into the Galatian ‘world‘ with an Apostolic charge, aApostle-Paul Missionary disposition, and a new creation Gospel message!

While the Apostle Paul discovers the Galatians to be a fierce, courageous people, he also finds them to be people who are impetuous and open to every impression. They are quick to chase after new thoughts; are fickle, having no consistency and they demonstrate a marked repugnance to any idea of discipline and order. Paul learns that these Galatians are a people who are indulging in much ostentation, functioning in perpetual disunity and living in excessive vanity.

These people were of such intemperance that it affected the manner in which Paul chooses to speak to them and the way he determines to communicate the Gospel message of his Messiah-Jesus. Paul discerns that these half-barbarian people cannot be affected by his previous claims to “become all things to all men.” This kind of Word won’t work on the Galatians. He senses that for salvation to be known among them, if their hearts are to be won through the power of the Gospel, grace requires the tenor and tone of his delivery change.

Thus, Paul delivers a decisively bold address to the Galatians regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ. He uses language that is vigorous, blunt, aggressive, direct, corrective, urgent, brief, full of righteous anger, and with strong words. I see something here – the Galatian’s character (or lack thereof) determined the WAY in which God communicated to them.

So it is with us, our character affects the WAY God communicates to us and with us individually, as well as corporately. Rather than be conciliatory, Paul uses intimidating and overpowering language.

How often have we received correction when we were looking for a caress? How often have we been confronted with the sharp reality of His unfailing, never-yielding Word when in the secret recesses of our hearts we hoped that He would excuse our disobedience? How often has the blunt Word of His grace pummeled the stony ground of our self-will?

I believe that Westerners are much more akin to the Galatians than we dare to think! We often are confronted with the overpowering Word of God because the resources of our tenderness and submission have been spoiled by our extravagant vanity and vaunted disunity. In the west, we frequently wear our ‘individualism‘ as a badge of faith when in reality, it’s the fuel that feeds the fire of our idolatry.

America specifically, and the world generally, requires preachers and teachers who will speak like missionaries set on fire; who will speak with such clarity that the Holy Spirit moves to confirm God’s Word with signs following.

Oh, friend, the next time you should be so fortunate as to hear missionary zeal speak forthrightly to you, it is God’s love working for you, and it is His mercy chasing after you. I am certainly not writing in defense of, or being a proponent of, ‘rude‘ or ‘crude‘ delivery of the Gospel. I am writing as an advocate for Clarity! In all thy getting, get Clarity. Clarity is so important that Paul discerned that with the Galatians, it would do little good to preach to them his ‘vision‘ before he preached to them a new reality – a new set of ‘values.’ In the case of Galatia, ‘values‘ had to precede ‘vision.’

Paul understood that ‘vision‘ wouldn’t be enough to hold the Galatians because they were people who were fickle and quick to chase new ‘thoughts‘ (vision statements).  Paul realized that he needed to preach ‘values‘ because it would be his New Creation ‘values‘ that would hold the Galatians steadfast. When their ‘values‘ changed, their repugnance for order would change. Paul knew that when their ‘values‘ were different, their inconsistencies would be replaced by the anchored Word of a Resurrected Lord.

Among a thousand other things, Paul’s Galatian letter should reinforce for leaders the importance of knowing your audience. Know your audience! Please don’t attempt to speak to Galatian ‘unbelievers‘ the same way you speak to Jerusalem ‘insiders.’ They require the ministry of God’s grace, not a language pre-dispositioned in Judaism’s cultural glories!

Today, like Paul, our secularist culture is quick to remind us we are in an alien land. A “new and different world” has eclipsed the landmarks of our faith. Our Galatia demands of us a willingness to do life as ‘missionaries,’ not homesteaders. My prayer for you today is that you will be a missionary to those far from you and that you will preach and teach Jesus like you are from another world. If you will, I believe “these signs will follow you!”

Wendell E. Hutchins II

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Jenny Jefferson
    June 6, 2018 8:39 am

    Can’t wait for you to finish Galatians, one of my favorite books. So many points were made…loved it.

    Reply

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