This post is delayed because of a lot of stuff happening at school – the busiest two weeks of the semester T__T.
In chapter 1, Paul warns us of something we mustn’t do when evangelising, spreading the gospel and sharing our encounters with God with others. Even if it is to increase the likelihood that a non-believer may accept Christ or to make God or Christianity seem more appealing, we must only tell the truth. This can be done by keeping faith in God and in his Word – that the whole truth as told by God should be presented others – we should trust that it has the highest power and there is no need for us to alter it. Paul says that those who distort the truth will be cursed. Going against this command undermines Jesus (especially to non-believers) and upsets God.
He also warns against those that use evangelism as a means of gaining popularity, which is another way that falsified testimonies or sugar-coated truths can be employed. This is said in verse 10 where he admits that:
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. — Galatians 1:10
He says in a matter-of-fact manner that if he was trying gain reputation and validation by humans, he would not be evangelising. It is clear that his sole purpose is to please God and we should learn from his attitude.
In Chapter 2, Paul revisits the idea of ‘law’ that was discussed in Romans. He writes in verse 16 that:
Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
A large misconception of Christianity in the modern world is that it is all about following rules and ritualistic behaviour, which is what deters many from it. This is also a large problem in the way our relationship is formed with God and in how we behave as Christians. Human beings like to attach rules, rituals and quantifiable things to ‘measure’ how good we are as Christians and how close to God we are. The ‘law’ referred to in this chapter is not limited to only the laws we live by in society or the rules dictated in the Bible. It can refer to anything we define as our means of attaining redemption or qualification.
In modern Christian life, the danger of this is real as it is easy to just say that as long as I __________, I am a good Christian. I say this is dangerous because it is easy to form a ritualistic and meaningless-law-abiding attitude over time by doing the ‘right things’ for the ‘wrong reason’. Beyond following commands in the bible such as honesty, humility, purity, these can be things like going to church every week, daily devotionals, worship and prayer sessions, etc. Don’t get me wrong, devotionals, prayer and worship are good, but as soon as we view our prayer time or worship with God as nothing more but a time of redemption and thoughts like “okay, I’ve done all I need to do for today”.
Hence, we must ensure that our intention is not to provide ourselves a justification of security but to really use it as a means to grow towards God. This is a big mistake and this mentality causes us to miss the point. Instead, a shift of focus from what really matters can cause Christians to lose interest and motivation quickly.
What we must remember is that God’s love for us is unconditional: we did not do anything to earn it and there is nothing we can do that will make Him stop nor there is anything we need to do maintain His love. What really matters is our faith and love towards Him that will drive us to cultivate a deep relationship with God. Our journey with God is a continuous one towards eternal life, not a simple checklist to guarantee is.
17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
— Galatians 1:17-21
A Christian can be misled if he/she lives in such a life of formed habits over a long time without even knowing it! Worse yet, purely following rules only governs behaviour, but not mentality and this allows for a large loophole in not having a close relationship with God. Someone who follows all the rules in the Bible does not necessarily truly understand or have righteousness. Hence, we must live by the grace, faith and love of God so that we maintain a genuine interest towards Him always.