You stupid Galatians! Who’s bewitched you? You are witnesses to the public crucifixion of Jesus. So you tell me now, did you get God’s idea by following rules, or by making a commitment to what you’d heard? Are you such idiots that you start with God’s idea but then end up trying to do it on your own? Doesn’t all your experience teach you anything? Apparently not! What does your experience tell you – that God’s work and amazing things happen when you’re following rules, or when you’re true to your commitment?
Paul isn’t going to get any points for making nice here. Calling people stupid idiots is not the way to win friends and influence people.
After you strip away Paul’s scathing tirade, though, the question he’s asking really is worth thinking about. Do amazing things happen when you’re following rules, or do they happen when you’re true to your commitment?
I’d venture to guess that it’s some of both. Sometimes, when you’re starting out with something, you need a few rules. You learn how things work. You find your bearings. Once you know the rules, when you’ve put in the time and become a virtuoso at your art, then, maybe, you can leave the rulebook behind – sometimes.
But, what Paul is furious about is that the Galatians have the capacity to be virtuosos. They have the experience – or Paul thinks they do – to make life following Jesus artful. But in spite of their ability, they’re playing it safe. They’re allowing their fear to rule them, rather than living into the freedom that is theirs for the taking.
So, what about you? Are you fearfully following rules, or are you living into the best of your potential? Is your life an assembly line product, or is at an art?