I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:6-10
I keep reading and re-reading these words and considering what I would say about them. What do they say to me? I don’t like these words. They are troubling and speak of the dangers that are very real for those who follow Christ.
The danger of turning away.
Not necessarily turning away from Christ altogether—I don’t think that’s what Paul is talking about here. But the danger of being fooled by something that sounds like the truth. No one wants to be fooled. No one wants to be wrong. We certainly don’t want to allow something that sounds like the truth to infiltrate the truth we live by.
The danger of speaking a different kind of gospel.
Paul is talking here about people who do this purposefully. He says, “those who deliberately twist the truth..” But he also includes himself in the warning turned curse: Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.
Anyone of us could do it. Maybe without knowing, maybe because we’ve lost sight of priorities, maybe because we desire to be accepted or push our own agenda. I don’t think most of us would intentionally plot it out. But let’s face it, we are sinners saved by grace. We still must struggle against that sinful nature.
We must be vigilant. We must be cautious. We must always be praying with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps. 139:23-24)
The key to it all probably comes at the end. The hardest part. I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.
Our first reaction is to deny this; to confirm for ourselves that we don’t do this. How often do we tell ourselves, “I just don’t care what other people think” while our behavior is constantly seeking their approval? We do care. That’s what makes this so hard. We want to be accepted, admired, respected, appreciated. We want approval from others. It’s our nature. And it’s our downfall in regard to the gospel and the dangers of turning to something that sounds like the truth.
We don’t start out thinking: I’ll just change this little piece of the gospel so it fits better with what I want to do. We don’t consciously think while listening to someone who has made the gospel about something other than Christ that even though it’s not quite right, it’s close enough. But our need for approval, our need for “fitting in”, our desire to connect in meaningful ways with people can easily cloud our judgment and twist our perception of the truth. If it weren’t true, Paul wouldn’t be talking about it. The Spirit wouldn’t have led him to write it out.
“If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
A servant of Christ—slave to him. At the risk of approval, at the risk of acceptance, at the risk of everything except him. It’s easier to be a pleaser. It’s easier to just bend a little; to just ignore this or gloss over that. It’s easier to just turn a way—just a little. The moment we think otherwise; the moment we consider these things not a danger for us; the moment that we think we are beyond this…we may have turned to another gospel already.
Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13
May Jesus guard our hearts this day. May we be vigilant about embracing the truth and faithful to proclaiming only Christ.