Galatians 1:6-10, “6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The Galatian believers probably thought they were simply adding a few Jewish customs to the gospel in order to enhance the value of their faith in Christ. But this addition to the gospel actually negated the essence of the gospel. First Paul rebukes the Galatians for their desertion; next he blames the confusion on those who perverted the gospel; and then he pronounces a solemn condemnation of all who tamper with the truth of the gospel. [Desertion from the Gospel (1:6)]
The Galatian tragedy is a warning for us that not every quest for spirituality is in reality a quest for God. The emphasis in our day on “spirituality” and “spiritual formation” may be a way of finding God. But it may also be a way of running and hiding from God. When we are enticed by provocative books on New Age spirituality, we must remember that the Galatian Christians were trapped by a message that promised spiritual perfection but turned them away from God. [Perversion of the Gospel (1:7)]
But Paul does not allow their gospel to stand as a legitimate option. He sets forth a radical antithesis. His gospel cannot be served alongside other gospels, buffet-style. There is only one true gospel of Christ. The rest of his letter defines the true gospel in antithesis to the false gospel, so that the readers will reject the false and embrace the true. [Condemnation of Perverters of the Gospel (1:8-10)]
If anything the first century Christian churches are usually an example of what not to do, however, that didn’t guarantee that we would not make the very same mistake. I could pick on gospels that angels presented to people in the last few hundred years or so, but it all comes down to pleasing people. Some big name televangelists refuse to say certain Biblical terms because – well, who cares about their excuses – they don’t want to be responsible for the preaching and teaching of the whole Bible. Others slightly change the meaning here and alter the phrasing there and in the process soothe some itching ears. The theory is that if you preach the gospel your way you won’t offend people and more people will come to listen to you. How many have deserted or perverted the gospel in recent years? How many start off with the Bible and end with something entirely different? How many get away with it?
If the Bible were sort of thing to please people, it would say that men found Jesus’ empty tomb first, it would say that the disciples never waivered in their faith and each and every person would be an example of what to do. But the Bible isn’t like that. There are good people and bad people. Good and Bad things happen to them both. Lots of people perish, lots of people find salvation. There is fear, doubt, hatred, jealousy, pride, courage, faith, love, generousity, and humility. Kings lose their crowns and others take them up. But most of all, it is the story of how far God went to make it possible for his creation to be reunited with Him and it is not a story that can be messed with. There is a responsibility for each Christian to know that story for themselves so that they could recognize when televangelists or others change it. Pleasing people does not neccessarily save their souls.