But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! Galatians 1:8 (NIV).
Paul doesn’t mince words. He enthusiastically says that anyone who doesn’t preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be under God’s curse. That’s another way of saying, “may God condemn (damn) that person to hell forever.” Seem a little extreme?
To some, yes. But let me ask you this: how seriously do you take your faith? Is it Sunday talk? Is it esoteric philosophy to you? Is it something that you consider regularly, or throughout your day, or only sporadically? Is faith in Jesus only something that matters to you when you want something, or when things aren’t going so well, or when you’re looking for someone to blame?
Paul took his faith in Jesus deadly serious. He had been a diligent Pharisee, eager to kill Christians to uphold Jewish laws, customs, and traditions because he sincerely believed he was doing the right thing. On the road to Damascus, Jesus called him out on it. Personally, intimately but publicly, and in a way that rocked Paul to his core. The apostle Paul took his faith so seriously that he was willing make any change, then die for it. And he did.
Do you or I take it that serious? What would it take for you to give up your faith? If one third of American Christians gave up church attendance because of Covid, was their faith truly deep anyway? Or ours? If you’re one who stayed the course, you’re no better; neither am I. Yet so many of our fellow believers encountered real crisis and our reaction was what? To watch them walk away from a faith that literally has life and death consequences.
Either Jesus’ words mean something to us or they don’t. His words are serious, even as they can also be an easy burden to bear. But when anyone trades Jesus’ message for anything else, let them be justly condemned. That’s serious, too.
Along with it comes grace. At every step of seeing someone self-condemned by their foolishness, we must offer them God’s grace. We desperately need that grace ourselves. We must not lord sins over each other because God doesn’t do that with us. He uses our sin as a mirror showing the promise that He has forgiven all of them. We must do the same. We must always be ready to offer forgiveness, mercy, and peace, even to those who hurt us the most, or are struggling, or who walk away. With this, like Paul, we shouldn’t mince words.
For further reading: Romans 9:3, 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:9
Lord, but for Your grace I would be hopelessly condemned. All praise and thanks to You for it! Help me to share Your grace with others.
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