Monday, February 05, 2007

Galatians 6:11-18

Coming to the end of his letter to the Galatian Christians, Paul summarized in his own handwriting his primary purposes in writing. Apparently an amanuensis or secretary had written down Paul’s thoughts to this point. Now Paul took over to emphasize his message.

Advertising, marketing, and public relations inundate our culture: business; education; politics; sports; and even churches. What appeals to people? How can our product, service, or idea be packaged and presented attractively to draw people in and win them over to make the purchase or join our side? How can we tailor language and image to lower resistance, touch a felt need, and sometimes even beguile?

Let us then read carefully the end of this letter. What message did Paul emphasize to the Galatians and indeed to all to whom he witnessed? Crucifixion! Paul pledged to advertise, market, and publicly relate nothing more nor less than the crucifixion of Jesus, and the critical need for us to be incorporated into Jesus’ crucifixion: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

This is the gospel: the cross of Jesus Christ! No one in Jesus’ day would have understood a cross as a piece of jewelry, a gilded symbol on a Bible or prayer book, a brilliant stained glass image, or anything of beauty. With deep shudders, they would have known a cross to be one of the most horrible evils invented and exacted by human beings on other human beings.

This – Jesus’ death by torture at the hands of political and religious powers, all because of our sin – is what Paul straightforwardly proclaimed in person and by letter. The saving death of Jesus is the one and only good news, above and even against all financial, philosophical, political, psychological, or spiritual advertisements to some other “good news” or good thing that will revolutionize our lives and satisfy us in heart, mind, or body. The only news that counts as truly good, as Paul affirmed and embodied, is new creation through death and resurrection in Jesus.

When we speak and act in the name of Jesus, what message do we live and present as God’s good news for us and for all people?

Gregory Strong

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