It would seem to make good sense. Just give in a little. Just find a middle ground. Let people practice their faith with a little more ritual involved. People do think differently after all. Yet, for Paul, there can be no giving in on this one point. We have been set free. No longer are we slaves to performance.
And for Paul, this was terribly personal. He was, after all one of the superstar Jews of the day. Paul was to Judaism as Lebron James is to the NBA — a guy with a lot of talent, playing for the wrong team. Paul was on the ‘kill all the Jesus followers’ team, which I would certainly equate with the Miami Heat in their menacing, all black uniforms, looking to devour whoever stands in their way with fire.
But more seriously, for Paul, what a relief it must have been to recognize for the first time that he didn’t have to perform for his acceptance. Paul was a child of God, not because he was good at performing the law (and he was), but because of the ‘faithfulness of Jesus Christ’.
And so, for Paul, any ‘gospel’ that moved him or others back toward compliance with the law (which no one can fulfill perfectly as it turns out) strips the ‘good news’ of all that is good. The good news is sheer grace. The good news is sheer freedom – but perhaps, not the sort of freedom you were thinking. More to follow…