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Galatians 1:6-12

I am astonished at the promptness with which you have turned away from the one who called you and have decided to follow a different version the Good News. Not that there can be more than one Good News; it is merely that some troublemakers among you with to change the Good News of Christ; and let me warn you that if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one we have already preached to you, whether it be ourselves or an angel from heaven, he is to be condemned. I am only repeating what we told you before: if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one you have already heard, he is to be condemned. So now whom am I trying to please - man, or God? Would you say it is men’s approval I am looking for? If I still wanted that, I should not be what I am - a servant of Christ.

The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realise this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Luke 10:25-37

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? What do you read there?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” “You have answered right,” said Jesus, “do this and life is yours.”

But he man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelled down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?” “The one who took pity on him,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Go, and do the same yourself.”

Even in St. Paul’s time, there were already Christians who were being misled by others who told them a different version of the Good News. What more today? One of the more popular versions of the Good News that we hear today is the “prosperity gospel”, which teaches that health and wealth are the right of every believer through faith. That is, if you have faith in Jesus, you will have a healthy life, and you will be wealthy.

Needless to say, this brand of teaching, among others, is very appealing to some people, especially to those who are suffering from illnesses, and those who are greedy for material possessions… the kind that would fall for monetary scams.

One of the best ways of determining the truth of such a gospel in the way it is preached is to look at its fruits. Believers of the prosperity gospel tend to hoard whatever wealth they have, refusing to share it with others and saying that others are poor because they don’t have faith in Jesus, giving it only to those who preached the same gospel that they believe in.

However, the fruits of true Christianity are shown in love of God and neighbour. It is not possible for us to say, “I love God, to heck with my neighbour.” They are inseparable, and loving God truly from the bottom of our hearts will always lead us to loving our neighbour as well.

Dear Jesus, help us to learn to identify you in our neighbour. Help us to extend a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a companion to walk with. Help us to identify the false gospels in our lives and to learn to be faithful to the gospels that have been preached to us through your apostles.

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