6.9 Galatians -- Paul and the Incarnation
So Paul is left tearing out his hair in frustration with all of them.
I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you (Gal 4:11-2).
Here Paul expresses the central truths of Incarnation, evangelism and racial peace: "I became like you."
This is a restatement of:
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Cor 9:22).
This is the same way in which God reached down to man, coming in Jesus to show humanity the way of salvation. So Paul did not come among the Galatians as an exalted teacher, a holy man, a prophet or liberator. Least of all did he come as a Jonah or a Pharisee, in self-righteous condescension towards the Gentiles. He noticed their sins and their lost condition, but as with Jesus, this evoked his compassion -- for Paul himself had once been lost and desperate. It was in this spirit that he came to them and shared the revelation of Christ to them: "I became like you...." in order that they might become like him. This is the completion of the rhythm of salvation: Jesus comes down to us to lift us up with Him:
Become like me (Gal 4:12).
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you (Gal 4:19).
Paul has moved beyond the reach of the Law, commandments and sacrifices, and has established himself in the faith of Christ and the Presence of the Spirit. This is what he wants for his churches too, because anything less is to miss the inheritance of Abraham, and to lose the freedom Jesus purchased on the Cross. He can point to himself as a pattern for them to follow -- not an expounder of moral principles or even a teacher of Christo-centric doctrinal truth, but a dwelling place of Christ in the Spirit.
"I became like you." It is when one steps over the line that divides race or class that one becomes a reconciler. Wesley preached in the open fields to the poor, Hudson Taylor put on Chinese clothes and a queue and preached in the marketplace, and Paul preached in Athens, quoting the Greek poets. Christian evangelism is not an imposition of self upon others, or of one's own values or customs, it is an emptying of self for the sake of others, it is becoming a servant of all. It is attempting to take their viewpoint first, before sharing the message. And the message is not about self, or diversity, or tolerance. It is about God and His plan for all mankind, and how it applies to all of us, and that it is freedom and not bondage. It is to open a door into the heart of God, a door that had been nailed shut for centuries, for millennia. In this statement, Paul embodied not merely the message of the Gospel, but also the model of racial reconciliation.