[Nederlanse versie]

Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verses 1-5

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

Jesus Christ’s apostle is being harsh: “you are not right in the head!” ‘Galatians’, he calls them. ‘Celts’, after their foreign origin. It sounded a bit like ‘stupid Asians’. In Paul’s eyes the Gauls of Asia Minor had lost their mind. He told them the secret of God’s Son. They had accepted this thankfully and gladly. Thanks to Him who was executed as a villain, they could now, despite all their shortcoming, stand before God. They had received the Spirit. Learning to belief, trust, pray, love. How? By playing a Jew? By re-introduction of old customs? That was too daft to be true. No, by lending an ear to the gospel of grace only.

The basic point of the Christian faith is mysterious: God’s Son “appeared in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:6-8). You would not invent such a thing. And with a bit of SANE understanding, one would see that believing in Christ clashes with putting trust in rules and regulations.

The apostle of the ‘Asians’ uses insulting words. If I was to start my sermon in Scotland with ‘stupid Scots’, it will probably lead to a bad end for a missionary. Yet, there can be occasions where a “Have you completely lost your mind?” sounding from the pulpit is pastoral. Muslims under the spell of halal and haram, are depriving themselves. Reformed Liberated churches enchanted by liturgical forms are deranged. They are sacrificing their freedom in Christ Jesus.

Do you have the Spirit of freedom?
To sing: take my life and let it be, verse 5

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.