“As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (a.k.a. "cut off their you-know-what")
When I read this I was amazed. Paul, a man who met Jesus in a vision, was sharing his opinion of people who were shifting the focus of new believers from God himself to a method of being with God. I can't help but have a love and respect for the way Paul speaks about this issue in the church.
Paul is writing to new believers in the city of Galatia (around 50 A.D.) expressing frustration towards Jewish teachers who are trying to influence them, non-Jews, to live in relationship with God in the same way the nation of
In this letter one of his points is, “When you come to know God, don’t get circumcised!” which is a really big statement for that time.
From the very beginning of the nation of
The Galatians have been deceived. These new believers are in danger because they are close to removing their focus from God himself to a "method" of being with God. Even though circumcision has been around for thousands of years as an important part of the Israelites commitment to God Paul states that Jesus will have no value to these new believers if they follow it.
How often do people simply join the crowd in Christian communities? How often do people set their traditions and methods of living with God onto others? Who do we serve? God or methods and traditions.
But we can't stop here. If we want to know the truth we have to keep reading. People don't have free reign to relate to God however they want to or however they feel.
God is beyond traditions or methods or ways or laws, even if they've been around for thousands of years. And Paul knows that if people focus on meeting "requirements" and "traditions" instead of on the truth of who God is and what it means to pursue HIM, they will be bound by those things and therefore unable to walk in the power of the Spirit. But there's more. Paul continues by saying:
"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."
So what does this mean?
I think God is moving. He’s doing something new for a new people. He's being God (one who is above all things, full of understanding, the essence of true love for all people). He's being personal. This is exciting for me because it tells me that people haven’t reached the end of discovering how to relate to God or how He relates to us. It tells me that He’s not closed by a certain way to live with Him, but open to a way of life with all people that grows out of a relationship with Him...
...based on love, faithfulness, grace, forgiveness and truth.
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." - Paul
p.s. -to read this section of the letter you can go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%205:1-15&version=NLT