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You ran well…

by Danny Mihailovic last modified Jun 06, 2014 01:08 PM
The church should always seem weak and insignificant to the world because the church has nothing that the world desires.

Galatians 5:7-15   “Christian liberty continued”

One of the techniques of successful advertising is that of persuasion. For instance, “If you already have a good car, it doesn’t matter, because if you buy this one being advertised now, you will be much happier than you are now.” To some degree that could be true. The newer car may give you that “Oh what a feeling!” experience, but it wears off. Sooner or later you will be faced with the same advertisement that made you buy the newer car, and so the cycle repeats itself. This of course is a very clinical explanation to the technique of persuasion. The process is far more complex. You need money in order to do such an exercise, or you will borrow it.

The Galatian Christians were running well. That is they understood what Christ had achieved for them by His vicarious sacrifice on the cross. Their liberty from judgment and condemnation under the law was real; they were free; they were loved of God; they were no longer bond slaves of the devil and sin, but now they were slaves of righteousness. “You ran well”, said the great Apostle Paul. “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This PERSUASION does come from Him who calls you” he adds!  Why were they persuaded?  Because they thought there was a greater advantage in the visible sign of circumcision. Somehow, this seemed to add to their assurance of salvation. Where did this persuasion come from then, if not from the Lord?  Obviously from the bad leaven in the church. Its fermentation was spreading throughout the whole community, creating such divisions that people were “devouring each other” (v15).

And so it is with Churches in general. If we are not grounded in the truth, we will create an environment whereby personal opinion which changes easily when it is not anchored to something solid, will cut through the soul like a knife through butter. Here in Galatia, it seems as though the church was skilled in everything but love. Their so called liberty to believe what they wanted to believe and act as they pleased, had little spiritual benefit at all. In fact, their instance on reverting to the law again, proved their hypocrisy, in so much as they failed to even comply with its urgent demand to love God and to love their neighbour. Imagine a man who thieves from his employer and thinks nothing of it, but then demands the harshest penalty for the burglar who broke into his house and stole his watch or money. Remember the unforgiving servant in the parables of Jesus, how he played the hypocrite by not forgiving those who sinned against him, but was himself forgiven by his master for the debt owed. Galatia may well have been in that horrid place of “lovelessness” while parading a spirituality that seemed fine and academic to all who loved hypocrisy, yet failing to appreciate the one most important fact, that Christ had died for them all, and now they would set that aside for something far weaker and obsolete. They were persuaded, just like Adam was, to think he needed more than what God had already given him.

The danger for us today is very similar. Like in Galatia, we are persuaded by individuals who seem to have new ideas and something new to say. Today, we often ask the question, “Why is the church so weak and insignificant in the eyes of the world?”  So we trot off to the latest Christian author, or the new church growth expert and hang on every word published because we think this will help us get relevant and more acceptable to the worldIt is the wrong question. The church should always seem weak  and insignificant to the world, because the church has nothing that the world desires. Why should unbelievers find the church attractive?  The church tells them they are sinners; that they are condemned under the law; that Christ had to come to save them from that condemnation and that they should repent and trust Him for their salvation; that God is big enough to take in even the most ardent sinner, because even the most depraved person on earth who calls upon God for salvation and who may even exhaust the church in its ability to care for that person will find that God’s grace is inexhaustible; unending; limitless and deep enough to supply the whole world should it turn to Him and ask for forgiveness of sin. Until grace has worked, it is only the truly born again Christian who can come to church and always find food for his soul, no matter how bland that food may seem. It nourishes him and he is always grateful for the crumbs that fall from God’s table. Christ was not attractive when he challenged people to the core of their souls, that they should repent. He was attractive when he gave them bread and fish to eat. He was attractive when he healed them, but they hated Him when he carried the cross for them.

There was nothing attractive there. They were persuaded to look for something better. Don’t be fooled. There is nothing new under the sun. Look to the old paths, and look hard because there, in its tracks, you will see the footprints of those who trusted God and were content with Him, even though they walked through the world which hated them for it. “You ran well…” How are you running now?