I'm telling you this story because it is very much like what was going on in Galatia at the time that Paul is writing this letter. In Galatians 1: 6-7, Paul says, "I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ." At some point (and it's not agreed on by scholars when exactly), Paul visited the region of Galatia- north or south, it really doesn't matter here. He shared his message that was received straight from Jesus himself on the road to Damascus. The Galatians formed a church then and there, embracing the truth that Paul shared. But then something happened. Something that happens a lot in the world, even today. There was a twist put on his words. Someone came along and started adding things, changing things. And it got to the point where Paul felt they didn't even believe or follow the real truth anymore! So much so that he sat down and wrote them this letter.
Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9, "Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed." Look at that first part again: "Let God's curse fall on anyone..." This was a serious issue for Paul. The changes to the gospel message were so severe that Paul wished God's curse on anyone who continued preaching it. We can look more at those changes later, but for now what matters is that God- through Paul- is saying that he wants the straight and simple gospel followed. Remember that this was it from yesterday:
"Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." - Galatians 1:4
John 3:16, quite possibly the most famous verse in the world says it this way: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
That's it. That's the super simple version of the gospel. God loves us. He sent his son. His son died on the cross for our sins. He rose three days later giving us hope! Those who believe and accept that amazing, undeserved gift are part of God's family.
I love how Paul follows up his curse talk too: "Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant." (Galatians 1:10 NLT) It's a nice, "subtle" hint that we aren't called to please people. We're called to please Christ alone. I know I need that reminder a lot!
Tomorrow, we'll finish reading through Galatians 1 focusing on Galatians 1:11-24 which talks about where Paul gets his authority to speak for God (from God himself). We'll also look at his messy past, written in his own words, and see how Jesus took the bad stuff and used it for his glory.