“As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”
Galatia was located northwest of Syria. It was a region consisting of such places as Tarsus, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. It was the location of Paul’s first missionary journey. As Paul and Barnabas traveled throughout Galatia preaching the Gospel, many trusted in Christ and churches were birthed. While nothing matches the thrill of seeing someone come to Christ, the preaching in Galatia came at a very high price. It was there, Paul was beaten and left for dead. Some suggest, the vision problems that plagued him, were a result of the severe beating he endured at the hands of those who rejected Christ. This persecution was initiated by the Jewish people who refused to accept that Jesus was the Christ. After Paul and Barnabas departed, these young Galatian converts were left to endure this hostility. They would be ridiculed, bullied, harassed, threatened and more, all because they were living in a way that was not deemed culturally acceptable.
Not long after Paul departed from Galatia, a group of men arrived from Jerusalem and gathered the churches together. Exploiting the fact they were from the church in Jerusalem, and claiming this as their authority, they instructed these new believers that they must observe the ceremonial laws of Moses. These laws included diet, days of worship and circumcision for all male believers. This message, while unbiblical, was widely accepted because it would cause the Christians to better fit into the culture.
We see much of the same things happening today. As Christians, we are constantly ridiculed by the media and seen as a group of backwards-thinking, intolerant, Bible-thumping simpletons who must be silenced. I heard a man say, the reason he did not accept the Bible’s viewpoint on marriage is because he is not from the past. This constant attack can become very tiring. When we are continually looked down upon and classified as intolerant extremists, we can grow weary, cower and even be tempted to alter the Word of God, in order to fit in. Just as Paul warned the Galatians against accepting the aberrant teaching of their day in order to avoid persecution, we must remain faithful to the teaching of the Word of God, even as we see hostility against it on the rise. Keep in mind,“the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for any who believe” (Romans 1:16). We are still seeing people’s lives transformed as they make decisions to follow Jesus.
Stay the course, keep the Word, follow Jesus, and let’s see Him transform our world, one person at a time.