Friday, September 11, 2009

Devotional - Defenders of the Gospel

Good morning everyone. I will try not to fall asleep at the keyboard. I had two hours sleep because I was with a friend at the hospital last night. It is amazing how God sustains us even when doing the right thing costs our body so much. Speaking of costing, we are continuing with Galatians 2 today.

It is not often that we stop to reflect on the number of people it took to get us where we are today. One person making one slight change in their thought or action during one day could have completely changed the course of our history. It is no different for the Church and where we are today. If it was not for men like Paul we would not be where we are today. In fact, Paul had to fight for the gospel we, and all the churches base our beliefs on. It was not an easy sale to the Jews, that the gentiles did not have to submit to the traditions of the Jews.

In this chapter of Galatians Paul describes his perspective of what happened when the church of Antioch sent him and Barnabas to Jerusalem to ask for direction concerning the gentiles. According to Acts many people spoke including Peter who defended the ministry to the gentiles. Paul spoke and describes it like this:

This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. vs. 4-5

It was also here that Paul's authority was recognized. He writes:

On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles,a]"> just as Peter had been to the Jews. v. 7

But these two things, which were to greatly impact the Church, were not an easy thing. This was hard faught for. Not fight as we understand today but fight as in standing ones ground and defending ones position in a matter. Paul stood his ground and was not afraid of titles or reputations:

As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. v. 6

Do you have anything in your life that matters so much that you are willing to defend it to your death? Something that you are willing to lose everything in order to keep? Is there anything in your life that matters this much to you? If you do then you will understand the sort of passion it took to win us our freedom to worship and serve in a manner that honours Jesus. I hope as well that you have this same passion to hand down this faith to those who follow after you.

Christianity is not about tradition. It is not something that you are baptized into as a child. It is not something that can be studied and understood. Christianity is a relationship with the Father made possible through the brave act of Jesus. It cannot be had by circumcision, communion, baptism or any other symbolic ceremony. As was shown to Paul by the Holy Spirit and passed down to us today, salvation is by the grace of God. This is the foundation of the Church today and we know it because people like Paul were willing to make a stand. Now will you defend it with that same passion, not allowing anyone to change it our water it down so that same knowledge is there for your children and grandchildren? I pray it is so.

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