But then, when you did not know God, you were enslaved by those who were not by nature gods. But now that you know God, or rather, are known by God, how can you turn back again to the sick and poor elements; do you want to be enslaved again? You are keeping days, months, seasons and years. I fear for you that I have worked in vain for you.
Become as I am, because I also am like you, brothers. I beg you! None of you wronged me. Because you know that it was because of a sickness of the flesh that I first preached the gospel to you. You were tested by my flesh, but did not mistreat me or despise me, but welcomed me like an angel of God, like Christ Jesus. What happened to your blessing? For I testify that you could have, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. So, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They are concerned about you, but not for any good. They want to exclude you, in order that you will be concerned about them! ”Concern” for good is always good, and not only when I am present with you. My children, for whom I again suffer birth-pains until christ is formed in you; I wish I could be present to you now and change my voice, because I am baffled by you.
Wow, what a personal text from Paul. As I read this, I’m thinking about some stuff I read from Perry Noble and Jim Martin on their respective blogs. Isn’t it amazing how personal Paul’s ministry is? Part of me wants my ministry to be always becoming more professional, which in part probably means more efficient, but also more clinical and depersonalized. But on the other hand, Paul’s ministry is so intensely, undeniably personal. This fiery, punchy letter to the Galatian churches is utterly incomprehensible without taking into account the way Paul not only thought, but felt about the people who were going to read the letter. The church he’s leading and fighting for here isn’t some abstraction, but is a group of people with whom he has a deep, intimate relationship, deep enough that he has become vulnerable to them to some extent. It shatters any notion of the aloof clergyman, pastoring from afar a flock over whom he is superior. No, the church can hurt her apostle. He feels for the church with such passion that when she struggles, or is being misled, it baffles him. It breaks his heart.
I want to be more like Paul. (Without the pain, sacrifice, and suffering, of course. Therein lies my problem.)