Detours

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ”(Galatians 1:6,7).
Our tour bus was entering the town of Hebron in Israel, headed for the ancient site of the Cave of Machpelah, Abraham’s burial place. Suddenly as we turned a corner we were stopped by armed guards and a barricade. Violence had broken out earlier and the area was closed. We were denied access and turned away.
Detours and rejection are fairly common in this life. Few of us are able to go everywhere we desire or accomplish all we would. Often we find that we prevent ourselves from many goals, through lack of ability, lack of effort, or changing priorities. Sometimes, however, we are prevented through the acts of others. It may be as simple and commonplace as road construction, or as threatening as terrorist violence, but we cannot go because someone else chooses to deny us.
In ordinary travel, this is simply an inconvenience, usually remedied with little difficulty. But in the major goals of life, detours and delays can be crucial, or even tragic. Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of the spiritual. Paul, in Galatians, warns of those who would deliberately, knowingly, turn us away from truth, thus denying us salvation. That such persons exist the Bible states plainly (see for instance Matthew 7:15, Acts 20:29,30).
Jesus gives stern warning to those who would so trouble us. “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes” (Matthew 18:7). Yet, there is also warning to those who are led astray. We are not without responsibility. Others will be accountable for their misdeeds, but we are also responsible for knowledge of truth and faithful service to God.
In the spiritual realm, no one can deny us access to God and Christ without our cooperation. The grace of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are available to all, and are proof against any who would deny them to others. So long as we desire and seek truth, we may find it. Even Satan is able to deceive and destroy only those who “receive not the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10). If we seek after him we may find him because “he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
In this life, men with guns and barricades may keep us from our goals. But not with regard to salvation. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). God is gracious and powerful. None save ourselves can keep us from His love.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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