Anyone who says the Christian life is unadventurous hasn’t hung out much with the Apostle Paul. You can feel the tension rising as he goes to bat for the things Jesus has done in his life. You can hear him momentarily go off-roading in order to defend the message of the Gospel and pursue those whom he loves. Let’s not forget–Christianity is not meant to be a bunch of “do’s and don’t’s”–it’s meant to be relational!
The false teachers of this day were masquerading as image bearers of Jesus. They were Christian-fakers. They could talk the talk. They were “spiritual”…but not Christlike. They had head knowledge…but not heart. Take a closer look at how Paul describes them: “You have such admirable tolerance for impostors who rob your freedom, rip you off, steal you blind, put you down—even slap your face! I shouldn’t admit it to you, but our stomachs aren’t strong enough to tolerate that kind of stuff (v.20–MSG).”
From a distance, it appears obvious that these leaders did not have the best interest of others in mind. They were selfish and wrongly motivated. However, it is so easy to get entangled with others (even in the church) who persuasively influence you or impact your thinking. When you are looking for a place to belong and a people to accept you…it is surprising what you will put up with. It may take some personal introspection to examine your friendships and relationships in order to determine whether or not they are Christ-centered.
What are the characteristics of a godly leader, mentor, or friend? Ask yourself…
- What word best describes the other person: arrogance or humility?
- Do they tear you down, or build you up?
- Do they talk over you, putting you in your place? Or do you consider them a place of refuge and comfort?
- Do they brag about their self-accomplishments? Or, their weakness that was made strong in Jesus?
- Do they want to hurry you on out the door? Or are they patient with you, filled with grace?
- Do they make every problem “your” problem? Or, do you find them relatable and human, willing to put themselves in your shoes?
- Do they point you to Jesus above everything else?
Paul was a committed leader who was willing to endure incredible hardship and suffering in order to pursue the heart of the ones he loved. He leveraged his talents, abilities, knowledge, lineage, education, and career to steer the believers back to Jesus. We need more people like this today! People who are willing to take risks for others. People who will humbly take a stand, regardless of the fallout. People who are fearless faith-walkers to defend the truth.
Why is it necessary to stand up for the truth? Why do we find it so difficult to do so?