You were running well. Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth? This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Galatians 5:7-8)
These two verses are packed. They are powerful to me for several reasons. Perhaps one or more will caution or challenge you.
- You were running well. Past tense, yet acknowledgement of excellence. It could be received as encouragement to return to running well or a conviction to reflect and humbly assess what’s happening. I’ve experienced this. I’ve watched someone close to me suddenly and violently walk away from faith, shifting from encouraging others in faith to degrading others for faith. I’ve taken part in many fun runs and a couple serious ones. Watching someone who was running well but no longer is looks like the intense determination of a runner in training who unpredictably steps off the road and walks away, not meandering back up the road or slowly walking the sidewalk ahead, but walking across the field in an unrelated direction.
- Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth? Squirrel! That’s what I think about as a continuation from the illustration above. The runner leaving the road might seem haphazard, but he’s following a distraction. Sometimes that distraction is minimal and unintentional, but the runner has loosed his focus enough that he is susceptible. Other times the distraction comes from another runner, who matches pace and convinces the person the best option is off the road. And sometimes the distraction comes from what we invite into our lives. Without filtering well, we allow and cultivate influences that slowly guide us. We might not be able to put the pieces together or realize what’s happening, yet we rationalize and defend our process every step of the way because it is oddly comforting to us even in its destruction.
- This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. Persuasion comes from every direction. As we lean into God and know him, we recognize not only what is of him but also what is not. We won’t get it right all the time by any means, but the more authentic we are with him, ourselves, and others, the less risk we have in being distracted and swayed by a squirrel, temporary co-runner, or other distractions.
We will tire. We will slow. We will have bursts of energy. We will coast. We will struggle. We will hurt. We will heal. We will feel alone. We will feel encouraged.
These verses can help us assess, retrain, and persevere.
I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)