1 Kings 17:8-24
Peace be with you!
Everyone has his or her critics – people who will never understand what you are doing. These individuals know the world around them and think it will never change. When you make the change, these individuals freak out and tell you are wrong. How dare you challenge their traditions and ways of life? Paul is answering his critics in his letter to the Galatians.
Paul’s critics have been in Galatia questioning his credentials among the people who are supporting his church and mission. His critics are reminding the Galatians that Paul has persecuted Christians in the past and questioning how they could follow such a person. They do not understand how a man who grew up as a faithful Jew can turn his back on the Jewish traditions and speak about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Paul now calls Jesus, the very person he used to persecute people for following, his own Savior now. Not only that, but he is now calling others to follow the leader he formerly maligned.
The Jewish contemporaries of Paul resist any change to their faith traditions and do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Paul’s message of the good news threatens their faith system and questions their way of life. His critics question Paul’s authority to start churches in the name of Jesus and to tell people that they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. After all, Paul never personally knew Jesus when he was alive. How can someone have faith in an individual whom he has never met?
In his true fashion, Paul answers his critics with the snarky truth. Paul explains that his accreditations come from Jesus Christ through a revelation he had on the road to Damascus (Galatians 1:11-12). His accreditations do not come from human origin; they come from the Lord God. As we noted last week, Paul is not looking for a “thataboy” from his contemporaries. Paul has made a lifestyle change; he is living for Jesus Christ – no one else.
Paul does not give in to his critics. Paul confesses his past sins: he persecuted Christians before his revelation and advanced quickly within the Judaism structures (Galatians 1:13-14). He is upfront with the Galatians and hides nothing about his past.
However, Paul is not who he was before his revelation. Now he takes no orders from man; Paul’s orders come from God the Father through Jesus Christ. Through a revelation, Jesus calls Paul to share the good news wherever he goes and with whomever he meets. Paul’s life is transformed by his revelation from Jesus. Paul goes from being a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of the good news. He lives as a called Christian.
Just like Paul, we are made new when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior who over comes death and gives us eternal life – new life to be in a relationship with the Triune God (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are all called to share the good news wherever we go and with whomever we meet. You do not have to be called to preach in order to share the good news. You can be a doctor or a nurse who shares God’s compassion with your patients, a lawyer who shows mercy and grace to your clients, a chef who feeds the hungry, an accountant who protects the poor, an advocate who gives a voice to the silent, a parent who loves your children, a bus driver who cares for your passengers, or [whatever “it” is] you do to share the good news. No matter what you do, you are called to share the good news by living out the Christian faith. Paul uses the skills he learned in the Jewish faith system and as a Roman to spread the good news with the world.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving Paul a revelation through Jesus Christ, a revelation which changed his heart towards you. Help us to work past the criticism of others and continue to spread the good news no matter who tries to stand in our way. Remind us that we are all called to share the good news in our daily lives. Guide us to use our resources to feed the hungry, to protect the poor, to give the silent a voice, to heal the sick, and to clothe the naked. Thank you for calling us to be your voice and to act on your behalf in this world. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How are you called to share the good news?
2. How do non-Christians or even other Christians criticize you? How do you handle the criticism? How does Paul’s example change how you will handle criticism?