Galatians 5:1-15; Lamentations 5; Psalm 147
Juan Pujol García, from Barcelona was what many would call a failure in life. He had changed career paths many times: from chicken farming to movie theater owner to owning a rundown hotel – each time the venture failed. When World War II broke out, as a rabid Nazi hater he offered to spy for the British. They turned him down. García, though was creative. He pretended to be a rabid Nazi and offered to spy for the Germans. They agreed and planned to send him to England. Only he stayed in Portugal and built a network of more than two dozen agents, all fabricated, who sent reports to Germany that made it look like he was transmitting from London. He had never been in England. Finally, England decided to add him to their network as a double agent and brought him to London under the code name Garbo – because he was such a good actor. He played a key role in Operation Fortitude which made the Nazis believe that the real D-Day landings would happen at Calais instead of Normandy.
His was a dangerous game. After the war, he moved to Venezuela, but the British protected him by telling his family that he had died of malaria in Africa. Later, the British honored him for his service at Buckingham Palace before he died in 1988. For García, being a double agent was a dangerous game. He wasn’t in it for the money; he hated the very idea of Naziism and found a way to fight against it. Paul was dealing with double agents in Galatia who sought to woo followers of Christ to take on the Jewish law. He was not happy about that. “Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:3-4 NIV)
When you read this section of Galatians 5, all you can do is imagine what would have happened if Paul had twitter. He’s livid about these double agents who have infiltrated the ranks of the believers and have sought to change the nature of their beliefs. The double agents in their ranks wanted Christians to follow the Old Testament law, and they wanted these Grecian Christians to acknowledge that commitment by undergoing circumcision. Paul is fighting a desperate battle to maintain the idea that a relationship with God is founded on grace alone. Any step towards Jewish practices as a way of seeking to influence God to love or accept the believer was anathema to Paul. He laid it out quite clearly: you can follow the law, or you can depend on God’s grace. You can’t do both. Paul was so adamant about this that he reminded the Christians that to follow the law was to fall away from grace. Then, in one of the most graphic comments in the whole Bible, suggests that those who practice circumcision to show their dedication to God, should go all the way and emasculate themselves. (v. 12)
Oh, it’s so easy to fall back on the familiar practices. Somehow, we seem to think that if we follow the right practices and do the right things, God will love us more, or better. We don’t say it out loud, but we live as though we understand that we come into a relationship with the God of this universe through grace, but doggone it, we need to clean ourselves up if God’s gonna keep on loving us. We think we need to become sophisticated and powerful for God to want to be around us; but when we offer Him our works so that He can love us, all He sees is the kid with a dirty face and unkempt hair holding out a grimy hand with an ordinary rock. And the amazing thing is, God loves that dirty little kid. He may take the rock, but He makes a bid deal over the fact that the little kid came to Him, because, we must come to Him as a little child. Come to Him on His terms – through His grace – and experience all of His love.
Oh Lord, remind me that no matter how wonderful I think I am, I’m still a grimy little kid that You love.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.