Influence

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Galatians 4:12-20 12 I beg you to be like me, brothers and sisters, because I have become like you! You haven’t wronged me. 13 You know that I first preached the gospel to you because of an illness. 14 Though my poor health burdened you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me, but you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God, or as if I were Christ Jesus! 15 Where then is the great attitude that you had? I swear that, if possible, you would have dug out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?17 They are so concerned about you, though not with good intentions. Rather, they want to shut you out so that you would run after them. 18 However, it’s always good to have people concerned about you with good intentions, and not just when I’m there with you. 19 My little children, I’m going through labor pains again until Christ is formed in you. 20 But I wish I could be with you now and change how I sound, because I’m at a loss about you. 

Throughout the letter to the Galatians, Paul is emphasizing the point and the truth that faith in Jesus Christ brings freedom. He was such a good leader that he made sure he lived like the people he served. This is an important point for us today. When reaching out and serving others, we can gain more influence by living life with the people hand in hand, and not just going in and leaving after we served.

This kind of lifestyle and living faith of Paul was so encouraging to the Galatians, they did not want to see him suffer and would have done anything to make sure he would get healed, even giving their eyes. So now we ask the question, who are we trying to influence for Christ and what are the methods we are using? Is life being shared and community being developed?

But, it seems that every time something good comes along, there is someone or something there to try and dismantle the work being done. This is something that Paul has been arguing against throughout the letter. This time he adds something interesting. He makes the point that the only way the Galatians will be accepted by the people is if they begin acting like them. How often this happens today. Paul accepted the Galatians because Christ accepted them. He brought them to faith in Christ and worked with them so they can have their lives transformed by Christ, not by trying to earn God’s favor. The new people coming in, that changed Paul’s message, are only trying to make themselves look so good by making the Galatians feel bad.

Paul is emotional because the congregation he formed is now doing things and living a certain way to impress another group and not living for Christ. He longs for them to be free from having to impress others. Part of the freedom Christ gives is the freedom to look to Christ as the example and not try to change our lives to emulate another flawed person.

The final thing I notice is that Paul longs to be with the Galatians in person. It is easy to try to communicate with people via text, call, email, Facebook, etc; but it is more important and more impactful to communicate face to face. When we communicate face to face we will be able to examine and find the true motives behind the actions.

Christ breaks us free to follow him.

#LiveFreeInChrist

Published by

Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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