30 May Boats and Barnacles
Galatians 2:1-2 – Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.
I have a friend who is a wooden boat enthusiast. He loves taking his beautiful old hand-crafted boat out on sunset cruises with his wife and family. On one trip with him, he explained how he was always fighting barnacles. Apparently, barnacles are always trying to attach themselves to the hull of his wooden boat. Although each is small, over time a boat can be so covered in barnacles that it weighs the boat down. Eventually, the barnacles can eat away at the wood and sink the entire boat.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is like a boat God made to get His people through this stormy world and home to his eternal shore. The gospel is a message sent down from heaven about the work that Jesus Christ did for us and what this does in and through us by grace.
The gospel exists in a culture much like a boat exists in a body of water. Culture is how people on earth organize and experience life together.
The problem is, the longer the boat of the gospel sits in the water of the culture it takes on more and more barnacles – man-made traditions, religious rules, and human edits to what God has said.
For a few thousand years, the gospel had sat in the water of Jewish culture. Then, once Jesus rose from death and poured the Holy Spirit out, lots of non-Jewish Gentiles became Christians. The boat got pulled up from one body of water (Jewish culture), and before dropping it into the new body of water (Gentile culture), it was long overdue that they scrape the hull of the old barnacles. The debate then erupted as to what was hull versus what was barnacle as the two had virtually fused together over time. This is what happens whenever the gospel moves into a new culture or subculture – a debate erupts about what needs to be scraped off the hull versus what is kept intact.
Is there anything you have added to the gospel of Jesus Christ that you need to scrape off (e.g. a political party, social cause, theological preference, etc.)?