Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

Today’s reading is Galatians 4:8-31Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Amber.

Today in our Galatians passage, Paul continues to try and persuade the church to follow the true gospel.

As we have heard over the last few weeks, Paul was writing to the Galatians to try and stop false teachers who said that to be a true follower of Jesus you needed to follow the laws of the Torah. (laws of the old testament)

In our passage today Paul reminds the Galatians of all they had been through together. They had helped him while he was sick (verse 13) and had trusted him completely. He now asks them, ‘have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?’.

Paul is upset and hurt, and he writes to the Galatians saying, How could you have forgotten who God is. He uses strong language and equates living under the law, to turning back to their old, pagan ways.

This would have been startling for the Galatians because they thought by observing the Torah they were reaching closer to God and closer to perfectionism. But for Paul this leads them away from sole reliance on Christ.

The Galatians were trying to rely on good works instead of God. Believing that the laws were good things, they are Gods laws, so why shouldn’t they do them. However they were doing them out of an attitude of trying to earn their Salvation.

This isn’t the true gospel. The true gospel is that Jesus fulfilled the law, it’s not about us. No matter what we do, no matter what we try, we can’t fulfil the law, we can’t save ourselves, and this is the trap that the Galatians were falling into. They wanted to be in control.

Over lent we’ve been thinking about patterns, perhaps you’ve taken up a new pattern like reading your Bible and praying more. or perhaps you’ve taken up a pattern of reflection or fasting.

Some patterns can be good, for example the ones I’ve listed above. But some can be harmful.

While Paul is away from the Galatians they fall into old, harmful patterns.

Paul finishes this section in quite an interesting way. He gives an example of Isaac and Ishmael. Two of Abraham’s sons born in very different circumstances. One born into freedom and one born into slavery. Here Paul is making clear that we are God’s children of promise and completely free. These new teachers whom the Galatians are trusting are trying to make faith more difficult and are trying to create division. Paul is passionately saying to the Galatians (whom he deeply loves) that in Christ there is freedom.

So here are three questions I would like us to think about today

  • What patterns are you relying on?
  • Are there any patterns you fall back on when things are hard, instead of turning to God?
  • Like Paul, is there someone in your life the God has asked you to love even when it’s difficult?

There will be a video version of the service.

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