Galatians 3:1-5 You irrational Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before your eyes! 2 I just want to know this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so irrational? After you started with the Spirit, are you now finishing up with your own human effort? 4 Did you experience so much for nothing? I wonder if it really was for nothing. 5 So does the one providing you with the Spirit and working miracles among you do this by you doing the works of the Law or by you believing what you heard?
So here we are beginning the third chapter in the letter to the Galatians. This short letter is written to a church of believers who have drifted away from the grace of God and have tried to earn it or just add things and rituals to their faith. Paul writes this letter to admonish them and to remind them of the simple message of the gospel: Jesus Christ brings freedom not bondage!
We do not like to be told we are off base or that we are off track; but I wonder what would happen if we placed ourselves into this passage today. I invite you to read it again, this time putting your personal name in the blanks and see what the Spirit inside you might say or be doing.
You irrational ________! Who put a spell on ________? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before ________’s eyes! 2 I just want to know this from ________: Did _________ receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law or by believing what _________ heard? 3 Is _______ so irrational? After _________ started with the Spirit, is _________ now finishing up with your own human effort? 4 Did _________ experience so much for nothing? I wonder if it really was for nothing. 5 So does the one providing __________ with the Spirit and working miracles among you do this by you doing the works of the Law or by you believing what you heard?
As I was typing this, I placed my name in the blanks. Ouch! These are words I really don’t want to hear; but at the same time, they are words you and I need to hear.
We are often irrational (some translations say “foolish”) because we do not collect enough information before we make a judgment about another person. Typically this is because the other person or group says something or does something we just don’t like.
When we first believe, we knew the incredible presence of Jesus Christ and how his sacrifice has changed everything for us. We can now go to God personally. We can work in the Spirit. We can have the wisdom from heaven. We can do and receive so much. But, we forget this as we go on in our day to day lives. Instead of talking with God, we listen to negative people and news. Instead of praying or reading the Bible, we find others to talk through events, emotions, etc and we’ll read fiction books or anything else that is not the Bible.
There is so much potential in the world but we, like the Galatians, can go back to relying only on human effort. How can we do this? We do this by solely looking at our available resources and can forget that God promises to provide. We will talk bad about an idea before we try to understand what it is or how it will benefit the organization. To rely on human effort means that we forget that God is right here with us and will work and walk with us through everything in life.
This really is kind of a harsh passage; but one that we cannot overlook or assume it is really just meant for another people in another time and another place. I pray that reading the words from Paul in this letter can remind us of the greatness of God’s never-ending love for us. I pray you and I can live in the grace He provides. I pray the spark we experienced when we first believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ never dies down and we remain (or become) passionate for God because He is passionate for us.
Living free in Christ means that we are free to be loving, Spirit-filled people who do the work of God unashamedly and will reach out to all people with love and grace. This love and grace we give comes from God because “He first loved us.”
(Ephesians 4 is a great chapter as well, to help us remember this message.)