You foolish Galatians! (v. 3). If this was an office sensitivity class, we might start today’s lesson with how not to craft your emails. To say Paul is disappointed is an understatement. He’s fired up. As a Brooklynite, I’m already assuming a defensive posture as I read this. If I were a Galatian, I wouldn’t look forward to what comes next.
But am I like these Galatians, and so deserve the finger wagging? Am I foolish and bewitched? Do I ignore the crucifixion? Did I start with the spirit but am now ending with the flesh (v. 3)? Or maybe I never had enough spirit at all. Perhaps this is what they mean by a “come to Jesus” moment.
I envision Paul as a fiery chef like Gordon Ramsay or an exercise guru like Jillian Michaels. I visualize him as a coach, like the irascible, chair-throwing Bobby Knight of Indiana University’s basketball dynasty, and yet I wish he were more like the thoughtful fictional Coach Taylor of Friday Night Lights. When I’m in trouble, I tend to listen best to pep talks, not lectures.
Reading Paul’s opening has me listening, poised, not sure if I’m on the receiving end of his rage or the lucky soul sitting way down the bench, out of reach of his spittle. Maybe I’ve never ventured far enough onto the field to know how much instruction I need. More likely I missed the lesson by hewing too close to the law and not the Spirit.
When we sense ourselves growing upset at a coming reprimand or confrontation, it’s important to search for the kernel that has inspired the outrage. Even if the tone makes us defensive, we must work to be open to miracles. Paul has my attention now.
Do you react best to a lecture or a pep talk? How could you become more open to both?
Lord, even if I’m turned off by another’s tone, help me listen for the lesson I need amidst the anguish. Amen.