Sometimes it seems we humans just “park our brains” or at least sound that way. A man named Jack Ray illustrated the point with a humorous piece in the March 2004 edition of the Readers Digest (p 76). He wrote: “The trouble with being a landlord? Tenants. Especially those who write letters like these: * The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared. * This is to let you know that there is a smell coming from the man next door. * Will you please send someone to mend our cracked sidewalk? Yesterday, my wife tripped on it, and she is now pregnant.” Sometimes the “funny” things we say or hear are just funny. But at other times not so funny. It may be that the senseless-sounding things people say sound “senseless” because they are senseless — that is, the people saying them aren’t “thinking it through” and aren’t being fair and reaching a logical conclusion from the facts.
A passage written by the apostle Paul in Galatians 3:1 accuses some first century Christians of being mindless, that is acting on and / or believing something without thinking logically and reasonably. In a very blunt approach, Paul asked in Galatians 3:1, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” When is the last time you heard a preacher address his congregation that way?! These days, Paul would be chewed up and spit out on social media as being harsh, judgmental and non-inclusive. But I digress. We don’t have space here to lay it out in detail, but in essence Paul is accusing them of being mindless! Through Paul’s teaching they were people “before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified”!
Throughout the letter Paul juxtaposes two opposing ideas. First, being saved from sin by faith in Christ and by the grace of God expressed supremely through the death of Christ for our sins (2:16; 1:3-6). The second idea (the one Paul sees as totally senseless and foolish) is the idea that keeping what in the original context was “the works of the law” of Moses (2:16), including circumcision (5:2-3), somehow merits and qualifies sinners and puts God in their debt. No way, Paul says, suggesting such an idea means he has “set aside the grace of God (2:21). Think carefully now, it’s not that Paul thought that seeking to obey God’s teachings and commands wasn’t important or even necessary for God’s Old Testament people who lived under the Law of Moses or for those under the New Covenant who were saved by grace. Later at 3:26-29 this same apostle who is arguing so vigorously we are saved by God’s grace through “the faith of the Son of God who love me and gave himself for me” (2:20) — that same grace-preaching apostle in this same letter shows that being saved by grace through faith does not negate the fact we must be “baptized into Christ” if we are to “put or” or “be clothed with Christ,” thus belonging to Christ and becoming a spiritual descendant of Abraham! At the same time the cross of Christ is Paul’s ultimate argument against the notion anyone can merit, earn and deserve salvation from sin to the point God owes it to us without Christ. George Washington Robertson said, “God gave us two ends, one to sit on and the other to think with. A man’s success depends on which end he uses most. It is a case of heads you win, tails you lose.” God grant us to be fair with His word and not be senseless in what we believe. The success of our very souls depends on it.
“These were more fair-minded…they searched the Scriptures to find out whether these things were so” Acts 17:11