Saturday, February 12, 2011

Touching Base! Part 114

Jesus, or Rambo? Galatians 1:1-5

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: Taking the high road is often the last thing we are inclined to do.

Let’s see how you would do in answering the following questions:
  • Ever found yourself in a situation where false rumours are spread about you?
  • Ever been on the receiving end of a mean-spirited person?
  • Have you ever felt like the victim, lies spinning out of control, and it seems that some are happy to believe the worst about you?
Now let’s add a twist:
  • Ever had people that you invested in, dearly loved turn on you- slander you, stick a dagger in your back? You remember times of great friendship with them but now you might have trouble being in the same room as them.
We have all been down this road. If you have not then you probably don’t get out enough. This is almost as certain to happen to you as death, taxes and shovelling your driveway this time of the year!

Text: Galatians 1:1-5
By just reading these first few verses of Galatians, you might never pick up on the drama unfolding behind the text.

Paul has been on his first missionary journey which resulted in him planting churches among Gentile and Jewish converts in the southern part of the province of Galatia. Once back in Antioch, he hears word about the Judaizers infiltrating those new churches and turning some of his converts against him. Here is a list of what they are doing:
  • They are telling Gentile converts that they also need to embrace circumcision (2:3,5:6,6:12) and various food laws(2:11-14) to really live in a way which is acceptable to God.
  • They (Judaizers) are guilty of cultural Imperialism - forcing Gentiles to become Jewish
  • They are rallying the Gentiles to question Paul’s authority, smearing his name, accusing him of lying and telling people that Paul has no real backbone. He is a people pleaser and a sell-out (v.10)
What does Paul do? He starts this letter declaring his credentials – “Paul, an apostle”!
What do you learn about apostles just from v.1, 2?

Here is a bit more information about apostles:
This is a term that Jesus used of his disciples - he chose 12 and sent them out to preach (Luke 6:13) - personally called, chosen and commissioned by Jesus. The NT evidence is clear that this group was small and unique. This word is not a word that could be applied to every believer like saint, believer or brother. - Galatians, Stott page 13. There were some lesser apostles - travelling missionaries - not chosen and sent out by Jesus like the 12 and Paul. It was a term that implied great authority.
What does “sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus” imply about Jesus?

As an apostle, Paul paid a dear price for his commitment to mission. Read sections of Acts 13 and 14 to see the challenges he faced.

What I want you to note is that not only was Paul being attacked (literally stoned) by those outside the church but also by those inside the church.

Notice what “Paul, an apostle” illustrates. He is holding his ground, exactly what he encourage them to do in 5:1. He is not forgetting who he is or what God has called him to.

What consequently flows from his pen? (v.3,4,5) (the whole book of Galatians))
Discuss what flows from his pen in these verses.

Understanding that he is being attacked by these people, what do you find impressive about Paul’s words?
i.e – Grace and Peace (Shalom) to people who are smearing Paul’s reputation and believing him to be a liar.

On Sunday I focused in on the word “rescue”. It has been said that Christianity is a rescue religion. They along with Paul have been rescued. However, the problem is, as we will see next week is that they are deserting the gospel, in a state of confusion and going backwards in their walk of faith.

Here is the point I made on Sunday. Often those that attack us are in great need of ministry. We may want to trash talk back, but what they really need is a lifeline, words of truth, blessing and hope. Paul does this exactly. Instead of allowing bitterness to flow from his pen (Rambo vs. Jesus), he allows truth- the book of Galatians, which will be instrumental in helping these Gentiles find their way back home.

My big idea on Sunday was that “Taking the high road is often the last thing we are inclined to do”. Paul does not stoop but rather stands tall and speaks redemptively. Paul resists the temptation and brings words of life.

Some questions to ponder as you reflect upon this passage:
  • Who are you writing a” letter” to these days?
  • What is flowing from your “pen”, bitterness, unforgiveness?
  • Is it possible that the person you find hard to love may be in desperate need of a lifeline, and God may want to use your words to be a lifeline to someone in need, someone who is attacking you?
  • Have you ever been guilty of allowing poison to flow from your “pen” and needed to repent?
  • What can make it so difficult to take the higher ground as Paul did?
  • Can you think of an example (without blowing confidences) where you have found it really hard to love but where you could see the need of the person and why they need your love?
  • Do you find yourself in a work situation where the environment is sick? No one takes the higher road- dig for dig, jab for jab.
  • Are you in a marriage where both are launching verbal missiles? No one taking the higher road.
What might taking the higher road look like?
  • Forgiving them
  • Speaking kindly
  • Pursuing not avoiding
  • Giving a gift not withholding
  • Initiating saying “ Sorry” to them
  • Saying hard things but with good intentions
  • Stop gossiping about that person
  • Repenting of holding on to bitterness and hate
  • Getting help because you feel stuck
I like what Paul says in v.5- “to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”. When it becomes about us, that is when we are most greatly tempted to act in an ungodly manner. When it is about His glory - we guard our words, prayerfully gauge our response, and humbly speak. Paul will say some hard things but it is as an apostle, speaking words of authority to heal not get even.


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