A Message Worth Fighting For?

Good morning and welcome to St Augustine’s! Please stick around after the service for morning tea – I’d love the chance to meet you, especially if you’re visiting or newish.

Today we’re looking at a part of the Bible (Galatians 2:11-21) that goes to the very heart of our faith. And it involves a pretty serious conflict with the Apostle Peter. Why has Paul aired this dirty laundry in front of everyone? Not just the people in the church, but for all of us to read, even 2000 years later!

As we’ll see, this involves the one thing we can never compromise, never let go of, never add to or subtract from: the message of the gospel. But is it worth going public on your grievances? Is a message ever that important?

I don’t want to spoil the talk (and if you’re reading this afterwards, you can download the recording from our website) but I think we can get nervous when people become dogmatic about their message. Perhaps we think of radicals, or sectarians, or any other kind of violent ideologue.

One way we could look at it is this: if we possessed vital information that could stop a war, would we tweak that information? If we had evidence that would exonerate a prisoner, or a strategy that would help reconcile a marriage that is breaking down, would we allow that to be compromised?

I’m not sure the gospel is actually that different from these examples. It’s a message for the whole human race (I mean, obviously if God became a human, this is for all humans, not just privileged humans), it’s a message relating to our biggest problems (our death, our alienation and sin), and it’s a message of reconciliation with the one who is most important to be reconciled with!

Clearly, we are not to be violent ideologues! But nor should we act as if this message we have in the gospel is simply a bunch of principles for good behaviour. It’s a matter of life and death that people come to God only on the basis of what Jesus has done in taking our place on the cross.

Are you open to the idea that this message is something that needs to be protected and defended at all costs? Let me know if you’ve got any thoughts. You can use the Minister’s Q&A forms handed out today or just chat to me.

In Christ, Mark

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