Thursday, August 4, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Mission from Everyone to Everywhere


Rev. Manoj Idiculla
Carmel MTC, Boston, MA
Vs.8 ‘For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles’.

Paul was accused of being a man-pleaser by those who proclaimed a gospel different from that which the apostle preached. This accusation was intended to undermine Paul’s authority and to accredit the “different gospel,” which the Judaizers had been preaching among the Galatian churches. Paul, however, was innocent. The passage is a part of Paul’s defense against the charge that was put on him.

After 14 years of preaching the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and planting many churches in the Galatia area, Paul went up to Jerusalem (because God directed him –v. 2) to confirm with the church leaders that they were preaching the same gospel he was. The Judaizers had been coming behind Paul and telling Gentile Christians in Galatia that they had to be circumcised and follow Jewish ceremonial laws to be right with God. And Paul brought Titus with him, an uncircumcised Gentile, to make his point clear.

The first two chapters of Galatians are introductory and foundational. The Galatian Christians had deserted God by adopting a perverted version of the Gospel (1:6-9). This was the result of the teaching of the Judaizers, who sought to add the keeping of the Old Testament law to faith as a requirement for salvation. The Judaizers attacked Paul’s apostleship as part of their teaching of a “different gospel,” a gospel different from that which Paul had proclaimed. Chapters 1 and 2 are a defense of both Paul’s apostleship and of the gospel which he had proclaimed. Chapters 3 and 4 expose the theological error of Judaism by turning back to the Old Testament law, demonstrating that it was neither intended, nor able, to accomplish what the Judaizers promised. Finally, in chapters 5 and 6 Paul explains how God has made provision for holiness through the grace of the gospel. Thus, it is only grace which supplies the holiness which the law demanded.

Paul’s self-understanding is well reflected in this passage. As a person who encountered the risen Christ at the gate of Damascus, he considers himself as the slave of Christ. As a slave of Christ, Paul caries out the mission to the Gentiles.  Another dimension of his self-understanding is the realization that he is an apostle, who is called out and separated for fulfilling the divine mandate. His duty is to preach the gospel of Christ to the nations beyond the Jewish, religious, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. As an apostle of Christ to the Gentiles, he transcends the boundaries erected by the religious sentiments. With the title, the ‘apostle of Christ’, Paul’s ultimate aim is to win all humans for Christ. In fulfilling this task, he even suffers persecution, alienation and humiliation. Paul says ‘For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles’. The power of the gospel to save and to sanctify is clearly depicted in this passage and each of us are entrusted to share the gospel irrespective of caste, color, race or creed. Just as the power of the gospel was sufficient to save and to sanctify one who was so sinful as to persecute the church of our Lord Jesus Christ in the name of religion, it is also sufficient to save and to sanctify each one of us.


PRAYER


Help us, O Lord, to fulfil the divine mandate that has been entrusted to us, to be witness of YOU wherever we are placed. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
‘Reach out to the unreached with the message of love’.