As for you Gentiles, you were even worse off than the Jews before you belonged to Jesus. You served man-made gods and were enslaved by your adherence to traditions surrounding their worship. But now that you have come to know the true God, or, more precisely, now that He has led you to Himself and you have believed in Him, why do you turn back to those empty rituals that enslaved you before? You are careful to continue with the rituals, both Jewish and Gentile, which you observed prior to your baptism into faith in Jesus. But you do these things for the wrong reasons. There is nothing wrong with observing the Passover feast, for example, if you do so because it has a deep spiritual significance for you. But you observe these “holy days” by rote, and they mean nothing to you. Was all the work I did among you for nothing? I fear it may be so. My brothers and sisters, please, do as I have done! I was a devout Pharisee, zealous in keeping all the Law and observing every Jewish tradition. But I have left all of that behind me since Jesus called me to be His, because I now have something far greater! I have freedom in the grace and mercy of my Savior. I am no longer burdened by the meticulous keeping of hundreds of detailed rules. Instead, Jesus rules my heart and guides my actions. When I came to you, I was not in good condition. I was suffering from a physical ailment and my appearance was terrible. Yet you did not show disgust at my appearance. You did not turn away from me or refuse to listen to what I had to say to you. You received me warmly, took no notice of my appearance, and eagerly drank in the words that brought you new Life. This reception was like that shown by Jesus when He was on this earth and received lepers and beggars of all kinds. And when you were baptized into faith in Jesus, you declared yourselves blessed by God, rejoicing that you had received His salvation for your sins. Now, where is that rejoicing, that blessing that you held so dear at first? Have I become your enemy now, simply because I tell you the truth? The Jews who oppose my teaching are working tirelessly to bring you to their side, wanting a church of their own, where they might rule over you and gain devoted followers for themselves. I don’t want you to think that being a devoted follower is a bad thing. It is good, as long as you are following what is good. Following the Jews who are attempting to win you over will lead you away from God. Following the teaching that I brought you from the first time I was with you will lead you into a deeper relationship with God through Jesus, His Son. And I would hope that you would continue in this devotion not only when I am with you, but when I am away as well. You are like my spiritual children, and I am like a woman in labor, struggling to give birth to you and see you grow to be more and more like Jesus. While I am so far away from you and cannot see you or speak with you, I am quite frustrated, because I don’t know what to say to convince you to return to the pure faith you had from the beginning.