Galatians in Your Church

I’m convinced that most churches these days have skipped over or completely missed the point of Galatians.

It’s not just a simple reiteration of Paul’s ministry and interactions with the church.

It’s more than just the two verses that describe the fruits of the Spirit that we were taught to memorize in Sunday School.

The Book of Galatians is a serious reprimand to the church in Galatia.

The Book of Galatians is a warning, if not another reprimand, to today’s churches. And in my opinion, to today’s Malayalee churches.

“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”

~Galatians 2:11-13 (NKJV)

Now replace Peter and the Jews with yourself and your church and replace the Gentiles with co-workers, friends, colleagues, other churches.

I know that in today’s American Pentecostal Malayalee churches there is talk of reaching the unreached and the unsaved coworker and colleague and people of other races, but the sermons are sprinkled with unintentionally racist comments and the overall impetuous that to be saved all jewelry, makeup and tattoos need to be removed.

Our APM Churches push the fancy dresses and tailored suits and look down their noses at the casually dressed worshiper as less-than-spiritual.

My mom scolds me for wearing jeans to church and wearing rings (not in church, but when I go out every now and then) and bracelets (WWJD and other ministry bands). It’s just “unbecoming” of an APM pastor’s firstborn son.

We recently had a speaker at our church visiting us who had converted from the Orthodox church to the Pentecostal church.

My mother mentioned my jeans and jewelry to him, expecting that I would be “set straight”.

I responded to my mom, in front of the pastor, and asked, “Mom, how many white sari’s do you own? How much gilt is on your saris?”

To which our guest, who was in an uncomfortable position, replied, “He has a valid point.”

End of discussion.

There was a time when my mom wouldn’t wear certain sari’s because they were too flashy, too gaudy or had too much gilt. But that was ten years ago.

Our grandparents wore white saris and outfits and removed their jewelry to set themselves apart when the Pentecostal movement started in India. That was about 30-40 years ago.

Now in the APM church jewelry and fine clothes are no longer about defining a movement, but about following a standard, a rule, a law that has been defined by a people.

It defines if you are a part of the club or not.

Are your clothes nice enough?

Sari’s of the proper quality?

Shirts pressed with matching ties?

Hair well- maintained and managed?

While this whole idea started with good intentions, it’s become legalistic. It’s become bondage.

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

~Galatians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

It’s a recurring theme and problem throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, of Jews and Christians who have turned tradition into law and identified these laws as a process of salvation and redemption instead of having a relationship with Christ.

But God doesn’t look at our jewelry or lack there of.

He doesn’t look on our jeans or our suits or dresses or saris.

Does it matter if you wear jewelry or not?

Or is it more important that you seek and desire to know the heart of God?

Does it matter if you wear jeans or suits to church?

Or is it more important that you lift up those around you to know God and draw nearer to Him?

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

~Galatians 5:6 (NKJV)

This past Sunday I wore jeans to church like I normally do.

This past Sunday I led worship like I normally do.

This past Sunday was an amazing time of worship.

This past Sunday I heard “uncles” and “aunties” humming and singing the songs after the service was over.

This past Sunday I heard comments on how much they enjoyed the English worship.

This past Sunday I heard no comments on my jeans or lack of a blazer.

This past Sunday gave me hope that our church can slowly step away from the past 25+ years of APM legalism.

I pray for our generation and the next to not be led by traditions and culture, but by the Spirit of Christ that has a standard that never changes.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)

9 Replies to “Galatians in Your Church”

  1. A truth to be spoken to this generation!!! Years of certain raddicle belief system based not on the word of God is what some APMs’ follow. The word of God, the truth, shall set everyone free. Rather than believing and focusing on the tradition, if poeple read the word of God and focus on Christ Jesus, this generation can tramble down this enemy. Let this be a prayer for every man, woman, child- jew or gentile, God make me that person you want me to be so I can be a child who produces the fruit of the spirit: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Always know, Jesus looks at the heart of the worshiper!

  2. I think you started a valid point, but went off on a personal tangent. Church isn’t casual friday. There should be at least a desire to be in the presence of God appropriately dressed. It’s not so much a rule, as a suggested dress code. You wear the best of what you have. You give to God, the best.

    It’s one thing if you don’t have the clothes to wear, but it’s another to deliberately wear jeans just to prove a point. The former is humbling, the latter is childish.

    Going to church in your “Sunday best” maintains the idea of church being special and holy, not just a weekly tradition. That is not an idea that is unique to Malayalee Penti churches.

    Your verse and point were valid when you said that we shouldn’t look down on people or shun other races away. Our Indian churches do need to work on cultivating relationships with other races and truly be a place of welcoming worship. It would be wonderful if we weren’t known as being “Indian” church or “Malayalee” church. We should work on being a church- the way God intended for us to be.

    But, in the end if you go to a Penti church, you should know that there are deep rooted beliefs that Penti’s have. It isn’t culturally related, it is biblicaly interpreted. To be blatantly disrespectful of those traditions is insensitive. You may not agree with the Pentecostal church, but if you are going to worship at one, and lead worship in one, then you don’t make for a strong witness when, the moment you leave the Pentecostal church, you leave the Pentecostal ways.

    1. Joyce needs to define what is “appropriate”..because with many Penti Churches, that is something that is misconstrued a lot (because it is based on traditional values)

      But then much of what the APM church does is stated to be Biblical yet in the end is still malayalee tradition. The Penti church claims that abstinence from things such as jewelry and jeans are standards of holiness,to which I respond,” when is that a solid foundation to judge a person’s relationship with God?” What about the pentecostal malayalee who lives a life of gluttony or materialism? Bear’s point about the gilt on his mom’s sari is valid, there is so much inconsistency going on, yet people think they are doing the “Biblical thing”..when in reality they are doing the “traditional thing”

  3. Personally I think that clothing has got nothing to do with our relationship with God. Its a human-to-human issue not a God-to-human or vice versa issue. I for one think that God is omnipresent. To say that we especially come into the presence of God when we believe He is everywhere is erroneous. For example you can’t go into a room that you are already in.

    So if the argument is that i need to dress well as I come into the presence of God, then I was sinning when i was talking/praying to God while sitting in my toilet earlier today. The point i’m trying to make is clothing has got something to do us humans and I hate to bring God into all of this. I still can relate to God whether I am with out without the appropriate clothing.

    I don’t think we’re going to please God extra when we do wear good formal clothing or if we where bad clothing. Why? Because we tend to relate God’s response to us based on what WE do rather than Christ’s obedience. Our actions therefore are a response to His Love. God doesn’t change. He still loves us not because of do bad or we do good but because of who He is. So the attitude that I maybe scoring some points with God is also not correct.

    By the way, ‘appropriate’ is very subjective as well. The same adults who were yesterday’s youth would have gotten in trouble in Kerala had they worn pants to church during our forefather’s time. And believe me some of them did for not wearing the white ‘munde’.

    Having said that I do understand that if people do wear clothing to gain attention rather than focus on God then it is wrong and immature. I mean i totally understand if a girl wore a bikini to church or a guy wearing a very tight shirt to show off his muscular body, then it is totally inappropriate. I personally don’t think that was what Bear was intending to do. LOL

    I think everything should be done in a context of LOVE as we keep our eyes on God who is pleased with us already because of the finished work of the cross. We should not be focused on pleasing or displeasing those around us.

    God Bless.

    1. forgive me ..i need to correct what i wrote in the 3rd para:

      I don’t think we’re going to please God extra when we do wear good formal clothing or if we where bad clothing. Why? Because we tend to relate God’s response to us based on what WE do rather than what Christ has done. His obedience was what God took into account. Our actions are ONLY to be a response to His Love. God doesn’t change. He still loves us not because of do bad or we do good but because of who He is. So the attitude that I maybe scoring some points with God is also not correct.

  4. by the way Bear, if that church gives u too much trouble, you are most welcome to visit any IPC church here in southern California. Our ‘uncles’ don’t wear suits. Our youths were jeans and we’re less uptight than many of the other ipc churches i’ve visited in texas, new york, florida… Some of our youths wear shorts…YES, this is an ipc church and yes we’ve got about a little over 150 members..sure this isn’t the biggest mallu church…but this isn’t one of those tiny family churches either lol

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