Pancake Christianity. That was the title that came to my mind this morning as I read Galatians 5. My first thought was… that’s just goofy. My second thought was, “No, that’s just gospel.” Apostle Paul, for whom I read a lot, was speaking to a group of God’s children as to why they weren’t what they should be. Why had their service to the Lord been squelched? And I ask myself that question just about every day. And today I received an answer to one such piece of that puzzle.
Paul mentions three characters who play a role in the dilemma of the church of Galatia. The Judgers, the Judged and the Judge.
In verse 7 Paul asks the question “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” You can almost feel the frustration in Paul’s question. “You were doing great! Exciting church services, praising God, seeing souls saved, who stopped the glory spout!?” That who certainly implies that somebody had stopped the spout where the glory came out. Somebody had squelched the Spirit of God in the lives of the Galatians. But who? Paul made mention of it in the preceding verses when he spoke of the bondage of religion.
Why is it, that religion, is such a harsh word in my mouth? Because in the 21 years of my salvation, it’s what’s made my stomach turn. I came out of religion. The dead works of sitting in a pew and putting in time and calling it faith. When I came out of it, it was because there was a zeal, an excitement in salvation that created an uncomfortable buzz in the air of religion. Religion hates electricity. It would rather sit with the lights out than let someone see emotion and vulnerability to the Spirit of God, and so they judge all who create the buzz. It can be spoken, or unspoken; but when it hits the air of a church, that you have to be concerned about what someone thinks of your reaction to the Holy Spirit, the service is flatter than a pancake.
Paul tells the judged that “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:8-9) To country quote it. “God ain’t in that, and it’s gonna make the whole church sick.” It won’t take long for that feeling of judgment to spread and the Spirit no longer feels welcome to move freely among the people of God, it’s bound up by the law that says all of God’s people must look and act like this. Whatever the “this” is in any particular body of believers that is a matter of human opinion.
The end result for the “judged” is that they no longer feel the freedom to obey the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is what should be leading the church. Paul said in verse 4 “ Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Their service would fall flat. You can’t follow the laws of religion and teach the gift of grace.
The final authority on this matter is not me, or anyone else in the church. God is the only One that has the right to cast judgement on the matter of the church.
I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
Paul had confidence that the church would take heed to his words, because Paul had come out of religion. He knew every in and out of every word spoken by Jewish leadership. But the Lord had saved Paul, and brought him out of that dead religion and because of that he could preach that salvation was by faith, not of works. And there was but one Judge. And it wasn’t man. The man that stood in judgment of God’s people would bear God’s own judgment one day. But for now, our job as children of God is to obey the Spirit’s leading and beware of the rising of the flesh.
There is no jury when it comes to the Word of God. God’s Word belongs to Him and the Holy Spirit will make known the wisdom of God to anyone who desires it. I had to pray my way through this blog today because it is a matter heavy on my heart; and under those circumstances the flesh can rise in a heartbeat. Paul warned in verse 13 of Galatians 5 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
The feeling of being judged is one of the worst feelings in the world. It makes it very easy to retaliate with your own form of judgement against those for whom you felt judged by and oftentimes that is other fellow servants in Christ. It’s not our job to be the jury of those who judge either. It’s our job to love and serve one another. That’s what the world needs to see. Not more contention and strife in the church. Amen.