There are many approaches to writing a letter. Some letters begin like any conversation, starting with general pleasantries before moving to the heart of the matter. That is–at times–Paul’s approach. We’ll read letters in the coming weeks with extended sections of thanksgiving for the recipients of the letter that precede the doctrinal and practical heart of the letter.
But all letters do not begin that way. Some relationships, some circumstances, lend themselves to a more direct approach. That is Paul’s approach in his letter to the churches of Galatia. From the opening verse, Paul is defending the authenticity of the gospel of Christ and his relationship with Christ. Paul’s rush to proclaim and defend the gospel of Christ mirrors the Galatians’ hurry to leave it behind. He writes in verse 6, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” Paul isn’t mincing words or wasting time. He writes of them turning to a different gospel, “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
Paul’s mind is made up. The gospel of Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins and was raised from the dead is the only gospel worth preaching and believing. And yet, already in the first century, there were those who were eager to distort the gospel, pursuing the pleasure of men rather than the approval of God. Let’s pray today that God would give us eyes to see and ears to hear the difference between the gospel of Christ and the distortions of our day. May we be a Spirit-led people who–like Paul–know when it’s time to get to the heart of the matter.