7 May 2018

Welcome to Monday’s Podcast. My name is Tom Finnemore and I will be sharing a thought each day.

On Friday Liam shared a thought from Galatians Chapter 1: 10-17 reminding us that ‘we are saved through faith in Christ alone and not through works of the law’.

Continuing in our journey through Galatians, we are reading Galatians 1: 18-24.

REFLECTION:

In today’s passage, as indeed the whole of chapter 1, the apostle Paul, as Liam shared last week, is defending himself against a number of accusations against him: one of which is the idea is that he’s ‘not really a proper apostle’. In today’s passages Paul is refuting rumours that insinuated that his short time in Jerusalem was evidence that he was a poor-man’s apostle because he was there such a short amount of time and as such did not receive an official ‘stamp’ from the Jerusalem church. If you’ve ever watched the show Suits – they’re trying to say St Paul is like Mike Ross. A fake.

Hence why Paul states he was there for 15 days – yes a short time but that’s because the trip was cut short as some people tried to assassinate him. The reason people tried to kill him was that he was preaching alongside the other apostles, not as their fake friend but as a full on Apostle.

So, what can we take from this today?

Paul is really addressing something serious in the Galatian church. A religious group, known as the Judaizers, had been undermining the Galatian Christians. How? They’d been suggesting and encouraging such things as circumcision – which was a throwback to the Jewish faith.

What was behind this teaching was a deeply religious mind-set or sometimes people say religious spirit – at complete odds with the gospel.

It left people confused – it left some in the church beginning to celebrate freedom in name but live out something different: A striving, an attitude of earning salvation, earning our way to God – in the same way you might earn your Tesco points. That creates a toxic mix of religiosity.

It focuses on the external – not the internal – and is often very judgemental: who is in and who is out.

You see, one of the markers of this toxic culture is being seen to ‘associate’ with the right people. They’re saying, well if he was a ‘proper’ apostle then he would have been endorsed by the ‘proper people’ in Jerusalem…’

It’s probably a bit like when I was a University student and got mixed up in Christian student politics – well, if you’re ‘sound’ you’d go to this church or listen to these preachers.

It’s all about external validation. About being ‘seen’ to be right.  St Paul was having none of it and neither should we!

Why were these early Christians susceptible to this teaching? A lack of confidence in God’s unconditional love for them. I know I’m prone to this.

I can catch myself: for example, if you’re walking around today or just chillin’ in the bank holiday sun and you’ve got that nagging guilty feeling that you haven’t been praying enough today or given enough money – when those thoughts pop in my head – I know I’m operating from a religious mindset.

I’ve learned to try and get right with God quickly. Lord, I’m sorry if I haven’t sought you out today.

And receive his forgiveness.

You’re loved. You’re forgiven and you’re free. You don’t earn salvation. You could sleep in your bed today and the Lord Jesus would LOVE you to the moon and back.

PRAYER:

Lord on this beautiful bank holiday Monday – may we rejoice that in you, we are free. I pray that we may rest in your love and grace.

Amen.

READING: Galatians 1:18-24

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie.

Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.