Saturday, June 06, 2015

Becoming Gentiles - Galatians 4:12

"I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are." (Galatians 4:12)
The problem for the Galatian church was not idolatry or polytheism but legalism. Those false brethren who had infiltrated the church were seeking to return the church to the ways of Judaism; to re-institute the law and to make the Galatian believers act and behave as Jews. They had taught observance of the old Jewish customs including their dietary requirements and the observance of days, weeks, and feasts. None of which, in and of themselves, were bad but it was a distraction to the believers and it turned their focus, affection, and trust away from God and onto external conformity to the Law. They sought their life and salvation in legalistic rigidity rather than in the simplicity of being sons and daughters of Christ.

For some Christians, the Jewish roots of their faith has fascinated them to the point where they romanticize everything Jewish. Their dress, their symbols, and their religious observances. They collect prayer shawls, shofars, and even keep the feasts with their families. It is as if they are trying to become Jewish themselves believing that by doing such they will grow closer to God and understand Him in some new way. They look to the ancient ways for revelation rather than to the Spirit who have been given to us to teach us all things.

Paul's cry to the Galatians is, "Why are you trying to become Jewish? Look at me! Do I look like a Jew anymore? Do I not live like one of the gentiles too? I'm trying to leave Judaism behind, why are you trying to embrace it?"

If Paul was here with us today he would counsel us with the same words. The goal of Christianity is not to become Jewish but to become children of God. God has made it clear that the old ways are over and done with. Jesus came to open up for us a new way to God. Paul reminds us that, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) And the writer of Hebrews testifies that "we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh." (Hebrews 10:19-20) So why do we persist in pursuing God by those outdated means which never brought anyone closer to God nor made them clean enough to stand before God? God has put those times behind Him and so must we!

One final thought, do we have boldness to speak as Paul did? Paul was implying that the Galatians should follow his manor of life. He had begun to live as a Gentile and so should they. But what about our lives? Are we living in a way that is worthy of being imitated? Paul says, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV) Can we say the same thing with the same confidence? If not, then let us first look to ourselves before we attempt to guide and direct others. Let us live our lives in a way that others may imitate us and share in the blessings we have found in God.

David Robison

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