Thoughts on Galatians, part 2

In my recent travels, I passed a car with this license plate: KARPE DM. I mentally translated, carpe diem, Latin for "seize the day."

My brain fired through a string of related thoughts: carpe diem was the theme of the movie Dead Poet's Society, starring Robert Sean Leonard and Robin Williams. The major literary work supporting the theme was Henry David's Thoreau's book Walden, stating, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately . . . and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." The teacher in the movie challenges the young men to live lives that are courageous, beyond the status quo. Thoreau also claimed, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," which contrasts sharply against the life of one who seizes the day! Who goes beyond the common. Who experiences something more powerful, somehow more worthy.

As all that flitted through my brain in succession, I compared it to Paul in Galatians 2:2, who went to the church leadership in Jerusalem, early in his ministry. "I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain."

When I read that verse a week or so ago, I thought it was interesting that even Paul, one of our best examples of Christian leadership in the Bible, had doubts about the effectiveness or perhaps the value of his ministry. Maybe his doubts were only in how others viewed his ministry or what value they placed on it. After all, the book of Galatians is written to correct the idea that Gentile Christians had to practice Judiasm as well as Christianity. Maybe Paul felt that the good he was doing among born-again Gentiles was being undone by those adding Jewish law to the mix, in a sense robbing him of his success or result. That would certainly frustrate a missionary, and I could understand the feeling of "running my race in vain."

"Am I wasting my time? Is this ministry worth it? " Posing questions like these is more common among ministers than we care to admit. Just this morning I read a confession of a minister who said he often looked out a congregation on Sunday morning and wished he could be the one just sitting in a pew. It comforts me to some extent to know that even Paul wondered about the merits of his ministry.

It also comforts me to know that he took steps to combat this feeling of frustration. He went to church leadership and put himself under their counsel. He clearly made his peace with the challenges of ministry according to later books, claiming repeatedly that he was willing to do anything if it would increase his opportunity to preach the gospel, saying that light and momentary troubles achieve an eternal glory that far outweighs them.

He did not live a life of "quiet desperation" but one of outstanding example . He not only "seized the day," but seized every thought to make it captive to Christ. No matter what doubts he faced, his life was worthy.
Ariel Rainey