Read: Galatians 1:6-10
High school is tough. In the midst of pressuring SAT scores, acne, and break ups, teens often wrestle with making their faith their own. When I was a sophomore, a Christian friend of mine became involved in something we knew to be sin. When my friends and I bravely tried to confront him, he challenged my friends and I and made accusations that we didn’t love him if we chose not to support him. It was one of the toughest things to realize that, even though I loved my friend, sometimes loving him meant standing opposed to what he wanted.
Galatians 1:6-10 is the cold opening of Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia. The Jews-turned-Christian in Galatia were being pressured by those who preached a defective gospel. Paul writes that He’s astonished people are so quickly leaving the truth of the Gospel and distorting it into something that it’s not. Anyone can twist the gospel to support whatever pet agenda they like, but it takes someone transformed by the true gospel of Christ to stand for it.
Remember, Paul loved these people. Some scholars believe Paul had planted this church, rallying these believers into a spiritual family under the banner of the way of Christ. His harsh and reproachful language isn’t him disowning them, it’s a warning given out of love. We saw this last week in God’s jealous love. God knows which paths lead to life and which lead to death, and out of love He will guide us, even violently at times, to keep us from wandering down a path leading to death.
It was during this friendship breakup that I stumbled upon Romans 1, and the Lord used it to break my heart for my friend. Paul opens Romans with the line, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (v. 16).
Chapter 1 continues to explain the wickedness of sin and how it turns our hearts away from God, our only source of life. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (v. 32). This is what’s ultimately at stake here when we get soft around sin. The life giving gospel is warped when we endorse what God cannot abide. We are his image bearers, it’s neither rational nor safe to assume that what God cannot stand is something we can tolerate—in the end the disease of sin will kill us unless we let God heal us.
As Christians, our purpose can’t be to please anyone besides Christ, even our friends. This can be hard, it may even terminate relationships we feel we cannot live without—but God knows what it is that our hearts truly need, and He is faithful to provide if we are faithful to pursue. We can do our best to love these people and point them to Christ, but ultimately our allegiance is to God’s. We are always called to love, the same way God loved us first, even in our sin. But that love does not mean endorsing sin by supporting our friends in what goes against God’s commands for us. It is neither loving to them, ourselves, or God.
Take some time to think about the relationships in your life. Which of your friends or family are you least likely to pray with or talk about spiritual things? Why don’t you? Are you afraid of looking weird, imposing your faith, or losing their trust? Consider the gospel, and the life Christ gives—the most loving thing you can do is share Christ with them. Pray for strength and courage to take this seriously and talk to them about your faith. The hard reality is, we can not say that we have loved anyone if we have not shared Christ with them.