With their loss to the cross-town Clippers on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers started off their 2012-2013 NBA season 0-3 for the first time in 34 years. With some aging stars (Kobe Bryant), a few key injuries (Steve Nash), and new players trying to find their way (Dwight Howard), the Lakers are struggling to find the form that their fans have come to expect. And while there are still plenty of games ahead for the LA squad to right the ship, it is nevertheless a rough start. And while you cannot win an NBA title in November, you may lose the chance to win one. A rough start can be very difficult to overcome.
A rough start was certainly not the issue with the churches of Galatia. In fact, their story was quite the opposite. They had started well, but, following a good beginning, had begun to drift from their purpose and calling, prompting the apostle Paul to write to them:
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? (Gal. 3:1-3).
They had started well, experiencing the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit, but they had moved away, thinking that what God had begun in their lives they could complete by their own effort. This is always a dangerous perspective, so dangerous in fact that Paul told them they were being foolish! If we had the capacity to make ourselves whole by our own energy, the cross would never have been necessary. But the cross was necessary because, apart from Him, we could never know life. And just as we needed Jesus to give us life, we need Him to enable us to grow and mature in our relationship with the Father.
In the journey of faith, a good beginning is very important and is always the starting point. But that good start must be nurtured by dependence upon the God who gave His Son for us.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain