Galatians 4:16-17a (NRSV) -
“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose;”
The Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Galatia, which is one of the churches he planted. There is controversy over the TRUTH. What is the truth? Who’s truth is it? Where did this truth come from?
Sounds so familiar!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, which at the core is about God’s love, grace, and mercy, that Paul preached to them when they first believed, is now in question. It’s being tampered with. The freedom from the rituals and dietary restrictions and the religious minutia that is the truth is being denied by these new teachers that come around. They are teaching that you have to do those things in order to be saved in Jesus. It would be analogous to someone saying you had to join this particular denomination because of the way they practice if you want to be “really saved.” You’re not a Christian if you don’t.
This is why Paul asks, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth” (16, NRSV). He says before that we were tighter than Oreo cookies and cream filling. So, how can you now reject me by rejecting the truth that brought us together? In referring to these new or false teachers, he says, “They make much of you, but for no good purpose” (17a, NRSV). What he means is that their intentions are not pure. They are not just giving you false information that they wholeheartedly believe. They are misleading you. They are hyping you up. They are inciting you!
Oh, to be incited!
It has now been a full week since the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. It was an act of treason. It was an act of sedition. It was traitorous to the nation and values the mostly white mob professes to have allegiance. And, of course, mentioning that they were white is important because it highlights the extreme double standard in how the system of policing in this country treats white people as opposed to how it treats Black people and other people of color. The fact that mostly Black peaceful protestors can be shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, met with tanks, beaten, and arrested, but mostly white and armed violent extremist can penetrate the epicenter of the United States democracy is disgraceful, disgusting, and demonic. It was White privilege on full display.
Watching the evil events unfold last week, I thought to myself:
“I thought they loved Democracy. . .
I thought they loved America. . .
I thought they loved the constitution. . .
I thought they loved the police. . .”
This can’t be true though. After all, these are the things they trampled on, looted, threatened, and killed because democracy led to their failed president getting a beat down in the election. America (U.S.), even with its dark past and the temptation to give in to its worst nature, avoided descending into its darkest nature by rejecting trump and the mob’s white supremacy, hate, tyranny, lack of civility, disrespect, and more. The constitution told them it was time for 45 to go. And, (most of) the police stood in the way of what they wanted — to stop the certification of the rightly elected new president and vice president of the United States.
Oh, to be incited!
Yes. They were incited by a sitting U.S. President and cowardly republican politician who propagated the lie that there was massive voter fraud. They were incited by the same folks who told them to March on Capitol Hill. They were incited by these folks who used war like language in telling them what their response should be. They were incited by the constant lies of this current president, his administration, republican politicians, and fringe news media websites.
The reason that they were so susceptible to these lies is because they believed the biggest lie of all - “whiteness.” They believe their whiteness entitled them to act the way they did. They believe their whiteness means they own this country. They believe their whiteness makes them superior and no one else matters. They don’t believe in democracy. They don’t believe in the promise of America. They don’t believe in the constitution. They don’t believe in the police. They don’t even believe in Jesus (as many would claim to be Christian of some sort). They believe in white supremacy.
This wasn’t just an attempted coup of the American democracy, in the same way that in Galatians these false teachers are attempting a coup of the Gospel. This was an attempted coup of humanity. This was an attempted coup of human dignity, justice, and the diverse voices of this country and, by extension, the world.
They ultimately failed just like these false teachers failed in their attempted coup of the Gospel message. They failed and they will continue to fail because as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” They failed and will continue to fail because Psalm 37 let’s know, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (NRSV).
What we saw was disheartening, but Jesus said, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world”” (John 16:33b, NRSV)! And, in the words of the great 21st Century philosopher, Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright!” Let’s stay vigilant on guard.
Peace and Love