[Nederlandse versie]

Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 4, verses 12-20

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Paul is worried about his spiritual children. He is perplexed, bewildered that they have become alienated. But what really bothers him, is that the bond of the Galatians with Christ is not the same anymore as it used to be.

They had received the apostle like an angel from heaven. Not because of his impressive appearance, but because of the liberating message: the gospel of God’s Son in the “nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7). They had run off with the representative of the Lord about whom Isaiah had spoken the prophecy: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” (Is. 53:2,3).

Yet, false doctrines had started to infiltrate the church. Their masters blazed with zeal. What does that tell? Paul too, before his conversion, took pains with enormous efforts. Read the harsh words Jesus addresses to the Jewish Ulama, the scribes who were making so many efforts to proselytise people (Matt. 23:15)!. There is but any criterion: is Jesus Christ central?

When Christians visit a mosque, they are sometimes impressed by Muslims who give up so much for their faith. A Christian girl meets a nice Muslim guy and gets carried away when he presents his doctrine of duty in an attractive way. Yet, even if he were an angel from heaven (Gal 1:8), Christians should not let themselves be tempted to give up their freedom. Sometimes Christians are worried, afraid of a growing Islam. More important is it to pay attention to the preaching of the gospel and Christian teachings! Is the youth ready and prepared to justify themselves and explain where their hope is to be found (1 Peter 3:15)? Believing in God is all about believing what God has done for us.

What makes the Islam attractive to some? What is the hope a Christian has?
Psalm 69:3

To sing: Psalm 69: 5-6 Youtube video gives the tune.
Lord, thou my folly knwo’st my sins
Not covered are from thee.
Let none that wait thee be shamed
Lord God of hosts, for me.

O Lord, the God of Israel,
Let none, who search do make,
And seek thee, be at any time
Confounded for my sake.