Sometimes I use words that are a little stronger than they need to be. I’m not talking about cursing, but about phrasing things in a way that perhaps overstates my case, that doesn’t leave room for nuance. Generally, I suppose, I do this to discourage discussion and get my own way.
Most the time it doesn’t work. People push back, and I’m glad they do. I rethink not just my words, but often my position and my reasons for pushing it. I feel bad for my impulsiveness, and wish graciousness and humility came more naturally to me. Is that strength or a weakness?
I pose the question because the apostle Paul also uses strong words. I love how The Message translates Galatians 3:1: You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses?
Even I don’t go that far! Paul goes on to say, Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. And I have to wonder: how clearly are we focused on the crucified Jesus in our lives? How much of our lives rotate around him? How much of our thoughts, our time, our energy, our resources, are used in his service?
My guess is that there is lots of room for improvement. My guess is that Paul might say something very similar to us. Maybe it isn’t working our way to heaven that has bewitched us, but the comfort and complacency of suburbia, all the advantages and activities that are so much a part of our lives here in northern Virginia, the sense of entitlement of our day, the normalcy of having so much and still wanting more.
But I probably won’t ever tell anybody they have been bewitched. I’ll leave that to Paul, who refuses to back down. If anything, he just drives his point all the harder, referring to those who have lost their focus on Christ as “cursed”. Wow.
There is an important word here, but one that I’m often too timid to speak. Thank God Paul is not.