Day 38: Communication and Love

Galatians 4:12-14 :

I beg you, brothers, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong, but you know that because of weakness of the flesh I preached the Good News to you the first time. That which was a temptation to you in my flesh, you didn’t despise nor reject; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Paul was not aloof. He didn’t try to act like one who was greater than others. In fact, he would try to bring the message of Christ into the lives of those he preached to by adopting as much of their culture as he could. He tried to communicate the Gospel in the clearest way possible.

Some people think that the best way to communicate is to modify the gospel. That is absolutely wrong. This whole letter from Paul is about exactly how and why it is wrong. But we read that the transfer of that Gospel is done by learning the language of those to whom we are preaching, whatever that language might be.

In Christian history, there have been serious denials of this principle. At one time, the Bible was not even allowed to be read by those who were not approved to do so. This is one of the reasons why Martin Luther saw a need for the Catholic Church to be reformed. God intends for His ministers to speak as clearly as possible in the language and culture of the people who need to hear the message.

It is a great blessing to have clear translations of the Bible in our language. This one reason I dont believe the King James Only idea. Just as we don’t speak Latin anymore, we also don’t speak Old English either. It’s impractical to use Old English language if we intend to communicate to this culture. That being said, there are very serious problems in many of the English translations today. We should carefully learn which translations are appropriate.

Those new believers who heard Paul’s message, heard it at a time when Paul was sick or weak for some reason. It isn’t a great thing to have a leader so weak he cannot even teach well. It would have been easy for the people to deny him on the grounds that God allowed him to be sick. That’s another thing we hear today that is simply wrong. Paul got sick as did other great workers for the Gospel. Evidently, the sickness, or whatever weakness Paul had at the time he preached to the Galatians ended up being the reason he told them the Gospel. God can and does use sickness! The Gospel is more important than our health. God can easily heal us just as he will someday raise us up from the dead. I am not saying that you should allow yourself to become sick. Paul asked God to take sickness away, and we should follow his example.

I think that we can all relate to the fact that when we hear and understand the Gospel for the first time it is so wonderful to us that the person telling us would be beautiful no matter what they looked like. Paul was reminding them that they acted abnormally back then because of the great message of salvation that the Holy Spirit spoke to them. It made them so happy that they treated a sick man like an angel. Paul loved them and didn’t want to see a good thing fall apart. He was reminding them that things used to be better before they were under the influence of these bad teachings.