Drivers in colder regions of the country know that their states have just two seasons: winter and road construction. If you travel in these areas during the summer when road work is taking place, you’ll be convinced that the main route actually consists of a long detour with occasional stretches of the original highway. You know you’re in trouble when the detour has detours!
These side trips off the beaten path often leave motorists disoriented, and those of us who loathe asking for directions might arrive at a destination we never planned to reach. Detours test our confidence that we know where we’re headed. Detours get us off track. Sometimes we end up completely lost.
The apostle Paul advised the Galatian believers to ignore detours that false teachers wanted them to take. These “teachers” wrongly emphasized that while it was crucial to know Christ, God’s grace also required certain actions and qualifications. These included meeting specific Jewish requirements, like circumcision and other aspects of tradition. These false persuaders incorrectly taught that the only way to get to God involved a detour through Judaism.
Distressed over the wandering of the Galatian Christians, Paul urged them to ignore the detours and get back on the main trail. Rather bluntly, Paul observed, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7). Paul knew from his own background that the law was like a maze. But God offers his followers a straight road of life in Christ. Trying to equate a relationship with God to keeping rules results in losing the way. Detours of any kind that try to add to Christ actually result in losing Christ.
Jesus left no doubt about the road that believers must travel. No detour can take us to the place where Jesus takes us. “I am the way,” he proclaimed. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).