I remember the first time I got lost using the navigation app, Apple Maps, on my iPhone. I put the name of the business in correctly, but it took me about ten blocks away—in the opposite direction from where I needed to go. I’ve since ditched Apple Maps, and I’ve been faithful to Google Maps ever since. We are right to ditch apps when they fail us. There are better options out there. But there are no better options when it comes to the gospel.
Paul is amazed that the Galatians are turning from the pure gospel of Christ, turning from Jesus Himself, and turning to a “different gospel.” It’s not like Jesus led them astray. there’s no chance Jesus pointed them ten blocks in the opposite direction. He hadn’t failed them. So why were they installing a different gospel in their lives? Perhaps because they were deceived and pressured into buying into a gospel that’s really no gospel at all.
How often are you tempted to subscribe to a “gospel” that says you only matter to God if you prayed today? Or read your Bible? Do you follow the crushing logic of a “gospel” that ties your joy to your works, or do you tie it to Jesus’s cross and resurrection? If we aren’t careful, we can take good things, like spiritual disciplines, and we can make them into cursed things if we attach them to the gospel. Bible reading doesn’t level us up in God’s sight, no more than circumcision leveled up the Galatians. Distorted gospels are a dime a dozen.
One of the great weapons of legalists and pushy people in the Church is peer pressure. Most of us like being liked; we don’t want to make waves and offend others. But if this goes unchecked, it can lead to adopting all kinds of dangerous teachings. Paul tells that he isn’t trying to please people first and foremost. He’s Christ’s servant. He is committed to speaking the truth and guarding the good deposit of grace to the Galatians.
If you ever sense someone spreading a distorted gospel, remember who you live to please, first and foremost. Correct course in love. Correct course because it matters. And when possible, do no’t let others be led astray.
Written by J.A. Medders