Faith to die for
Paul didn’t write the letters that he sent to the congregations himself. He dictated and Tertius wrote it down. The reason for this was probably Paul’s poor handwriting.
After the letter was written, Paul usually signed it personally, but in ending off the letter to the Galatians he did something a little different. He was so concerned that these young Christians might not have the courage to persist in their faith in the risen Jesus. He was afraid that they would rather choose the easy way out by believing in circumcision and in that way escape persecution.
These people didn’t live in easy circumstances. In that time people were killed left and right for not abiding by the law and living the way the state and the church said they should. Many of Jesus’ followers died in exactly the same as He did. For many young Christians it was extremely difficult to stand up against circumcision, because by doing that they put their lives in grave danger. Some were not prepared to go that far.
And I wonder, would I be prepared to go that far?
And that is why Paul starts writing himself, pleading with them: 11Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. 12These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death.
Paul’s plea to them to hold on, to stand up for what you believe in, forces me to look at my own faith. It’s a simple question: Am I prepared to stand up for my faith or do I rather take the easy way out?
This reminds me of the story of the machine gun-wielding gang of men who burst into church during the Sunday morning service. They screamed at the congregation that they were going to shoot everybody who believed in God. The others could get up and go, their lives would be saved.
A big number of people got up and ran outside. The people who stayed behind were ordered to get down on their knees before the pulpit. With the guns against their heads they were again told that those who believed in God would be shot. The others could get up and leave. Another couple of people got up and ran outside.
As the last one left, one of the gunmen turned to the pastor and said: Well, preacher, these are the real children of God. Now you can get on with your sermon.
Would I have been one of those who heard the sermon that Sunday morning?
We must never ever allow our faith in the risen Jesus to be taken away from us. We must never allow traditions or stories about faith to take away our faith in the risen Jesus.
We must be prepared to die for our faith. Let’s make sure that we don’t follow other people’s stories about faith. Let’s keep on believing that Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to save us.
Do you follow traditions or do you follow Jesus?
Are you prepared to die like Jesus?
What does Jesus’ death on the cross mean for you?
Jesus, thank you that my faith in your crucifixion and resurrection has freed me from the burden of guilt caused by sin. My grateful heart now drives me to be obedient to Your will for my life that You communicate to me so lovingly in your Word. Amen