Galatians 1:6-9 – “Other Gospels”
I remember the first days of following Jesus. Someone told me to be careful because over the years I would ebb and flow in my faith… that I would go through seasons where faith might not be as easy or as important. They said that there may even come a time when I fall away. “That’s crazy!” I said. In my naivety I thought that I was going to be different. Yet within weeks I was finding that the fire in my bones that came with my initial declaration of faith had been snuffed out.
I remember reading Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13 about the seeds falling on different kinds of soil. “And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
I knew I didn’t WANT to be the ground that devoured, scorched or choked the seeds. I wanted to be the fertile ground. But the reality was that somehow Jesus was being choked out. In our reading today Paul warned the Galatians about following “another gospel”. The Jewish leaders were coming along after Paul and telling the Christian converts they had to follow some of the Jewish laws in addition to following Jesus. Not much has changed. Many times the church has added things to merely following Jesus.
Jesus plus anything is “another gospel.” It may not be as obvious as saying that you aren’t a Christian until you are baptized or circumsized, or until the church says that you’ve demonstrated enough good works and they determine if your faith is genuine. The bible makes it clear. Romans 10:13 says “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It’s not in the shirt you wear, the music that is sung on a Sunday morning, or how many church functions you attend.
I think it is wise to, from time to time, do a self-check. What kind of soil are you right now? Not “what soil do you want to be”… but what is your present reality? As we begin this week, let’s use this first day to ask God to search our hearts. David did this is the Psalms. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24) Recognizing where our starting point is will help us know where to go from there.
Lord, I don’t want to be anything but fertile ground for you. Search my heart and show me if I have added anything to following Jesus. Help me to see if I’ve been following another gospel other than what you have shown me. Lord, help me to remove those weeds I’ve allowed to grow up… that might be choking out Jesus in my faith and in my life. Amen.