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Hating The Preacher

Galatians 4:11-16
I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? (NIVUK)  

Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians because the gospel he preached was being undermined by false teachers and false gospels (Galatians 1:6-9). He was not a stranger to the churches; through his teaching, people were converted and churches were established. They should have been grateful to him. But his place was soon taken by attractive preachers who brought the message of salvation by works – the more you can do for God, the more He will be impressed. That is not the true gospel. So, as they threw out Paul’s gospel (given by Jesus Christ), they also threw out their relationship with him. It was a case of ‘reject the message, reject the messenger’.
So Paul reminds them of the relationship they once enjoyed. Their initial meeting was because his preaching tour had to be diverted due to illness. Despite his weakness they welcomed him because they were hungry for his message of salvation, by grace and not by works. Their response to Paul was just as though Jesus Christ had been physically present. So why, Paul asked, had they turned against the message and the messenger? He knew the answer, but wanted them to understand how their hearts had been changed as they drifted from Jesus as the only Saviour, and went back to their old habits of trying to impress God.
Although it is now popular to talk about a ‘spiritual journey’, if you have moved from Jesus as the all-sufficient Saviour – you have gone the wrong way. Who first led you to know Jesus; have you maintained that fellowship? Who first taught you how to live for Jesus; have you continued to honour that relationship? Or have you resented being corrected, and chosen what seemed to you to be a better way, meanwhile telling others how much your teacher has hurt you? People like that break relationships, because they are resisting the truth. When that happens, the relationship which suffers most is with Jesus: but there is no better way than to trust Jesus and obey Him ... and be in fellowship with those who told you the truth about Him.

Holy God. Thank You for all the people who have spoken truth into my life, almost as though Jesus was in the room at the time. Yet I am sorry for thinking that there is a better way than the gospel of Jesus, hoping that You will accept me because of the good things I try to do. Forgive me for such arrogance, and for moving away from those who have faithfully delivered Your truth. Please help me to recognise where I have gone the wrong way and bring me back into a true gospel fellowship with those who have shown me the light of the gospel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams