Daily Lectionary: Judges 7:1-23; Galatians 1:1-24
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Whoa, there, St. Paul! Take it easy! In these modern times we don’t talk that way about other people’s religions and ideas. Everyone’s “path” is valid. You can’t say they’re wrong! You certainly can’t tell them to be “cursed” or “damned!” But, oh yes, he can! He should! And he does! Perhaps we take it for granted but the simple fact is that any preaching, teaching, religion, or philosophy other than the forgiveness of sins freely given for Christ’s sake, will kill you. It. Will. Kill. You. It. Will. Damn. You.
The problem with the churches in Galatia was that some preachers had come in who said that you could only be a Christian if you were circumcised. They may have added some other requirements from the Old Testament Jewish Law. Regardless of the details, the fact is, they said, “You have to [fill in the blank] in order to be a Christian, to be saved.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s as big as “You have to live a good life and try hard to please God” or as seemingly small as “You have to give your heart to Jesus, but He does the rest…” If there’s any of YOU in the equation, that’s wrong. False. Deadly.
Jesus came to rescue us from any sort of religion where we can fix what’s wrong between us and God ourselves, because we can’t. It doesn’t mean religions don’t try. Five Pillars. Meditation to nirvana. Eating only certain foods. Whatever. The religions that man make up all have this one thing in common: they are things YOU do to get to God.
Since such religions don’t save us, Jesus saves us. He comes to us. He does the saving. He does the suffering, dying, and rising. He does the baptizing, absolving, preaching and feeding. He does it all. He said, “It is finished” on Calvary and told His disciples, “Go deliver it to the world, as a free gift. No strings attached.” Paul wants nothing other than that Good News be the only thing the Galatians or any of us ever hear. For in that Good News, we have everlasting life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son And bring to naught all He has done. (Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word, LSB 655:1)