Now that we are a couple of weeks into the Major League Baseball season, we are seeing several things—some expected and some unexpected. It was expected that the Tigers would crush the ball, and they are. It was expected that the Rays would pitch well, and they do. What was not expected, however, was that two of baseball’s powerhouse franchises—the Angels and Red Sox—would get off to such a slow start. Obviously, baseball’s 162-game season means that it is far too early to write anyone off. But it is still very surprising to see these two teams not living up to expectations. Now, questions are being raised about the makeup of the Angels’ squad. People are pointing fingers at Boston’s sometimes volatile manager. The slow start has made these teams vulnerable to a level of scrutiny and examination that most teams don’t have to face until later in the season. For fans of the Sox and the Halos, however, it is never too soon to panic. All it takes is a slow start.
The churches at Galatia had the opposite problem. They started well in the life of faith, and seemed to be growing in the grace of Christ. Then, something happened. Teachers came in with a different message and the spiritual work that was growing in their lives was in danger of being derailed. The apostle Paul addressed the problem by saying to these followers of Christ:
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)
They had begun well… but now they were losing their way. Why? Because they had allowed themselves to be moved away from grace and into a faith rooted in their own performance. One of the challenges of the Christian life is that, after a while, we can lose sight of the fact that our relationship with God has never been rooted in what we do. It has always been utterly dependent upon what Christ did. It is His performance on the cross and in the resurrection that makes the walk of faith possible—and if we lose sight of that, we will be easily misled along the way. “Having begun in the Spirit” is a reminder that the safest place to be in the universe is in a place of dependency upon our God. He and He alone can give us a good start, as well as the opportunity for a strong finish.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain