Paul wastes no time in getting to the point of his letter to the Galatians. Just after his greeting he writes,
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all.”
I believe I can empathize some with these people, though. After Paul left, another group of people had come along to tell them a different story. Who were they to believe?
We experience the same kind of confusion all the time. Want to lose weight? Eat healthy? Looking for ways to invest your saving? Want advice on raising your kids? If there is anything we have questions about, we can be sure to find at LEAST two different opinions on the best way to do it.
It’s no different when it comes to asking how to be a Christian. We have access to a number of different Christian teachers, and some of them have basic disagreements about what it means to live a Christian life. Who are you to believe?
To answer that question we need to a little work to check our sources. One of the big lessons I learned in my time in scientific research is to check your assumptions, and this includes checking the source of the information you are using.
As Paul continues to write, he calls the Galatians to do just that. He first tells them to examine his character. He writes, “am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God.” (Gal 1:10). Examine the character of the people you listen to. What are their motives? Who are they trying to please? If they have a sincere heart and exhibit the fruit of a life lived for Christ, they may be worth listening to.
Paul then goes on to tell of his personal encounter with Christ; how he came to know the truth of who Jesus is; and how that revelation was approved of by Jesus’ closest followers. We have the great advantage today of having access to the stories of people who knew Christ personally. The reliability of the Bible as God’s Word comes, in part, from the fact that the people who wrote much of it were people who experienced the events they record. For that reason, we need to consider how the people who speak and write about God today make use of the Bible. Are they careful to faithfully represent what it written there? That is a question each of us needs to be able to answer for ourselves by having our own first-hand encounters with the Word of God.
There are all kinds of people ready to tell you how best to live. Don’t just listen to whoever sounds most pleasing or convincing! Take some time to check out who you are listening to.