30 March 2019Galatians 5:13-26
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (v. 25)
Psalm: Psalm 106:43-48
Paul wrote to the Galatians after the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50CE), a meeting of church leaders in the early church, in which it was agreed that gentile (non-Jewish) Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews. This was controversial.
(v. 13-14) Here Paul argues that the stipulation of not needing to keep the Jewish law is not a soft option for gentile Christians. Christians may have freedom from being enslaved to the provisions of the law, but in living out of this freedom, they are to be slaves to one another in love. This love for the neighbour indeed sums up the whole of the purpose of the Jewish law.
(v. 15) Take care that your impulses to lack of love don’t eat you up along with your neighbour.
(v. 16 -21) Perhaps think of it like this: Being enslaved to one another in love, is making visible the invisible ‘oneness’ that is present in the loving inter-connectedness of all creation. Sin is the woundedness that comes from our apparent separation (or severed relationships) from God and one another. This woundedness is part of the human condition (flesh), and the instinctual impulses that arise from this woundedness manifest in reactive thoughts, emotions and impulses such as envy, jealousy, quarrels and more (vs. 20-21).
(v. 16) Faith in Christ, however, gives us access to awareness of the ‘Spirit’ (the spirit present in the dynamic loving inter-connectedness and oneness in creation). You, Galatians, therefore, do not live out of the reactivity of your woundedness, but through the impulse and inspiration of God’s spirit. (The goodness glue of Creation.)
(vs. 22-23) The fruits of this Spirit are love, peace, joy, kindness … You don’t need any law to protect you from such wonderful fruits.
(v. 24) Those who are baptised into Christ Jesus, have put to death the false self which emerges from your woundedness and which you are driven to defend, with its impulses to attack and compete. This causes strife and division, which fundamentally is not living out your ‘oneness’ in Christ.
(v. 25) If you live by the Spirit, which is the oneness of creation, let yourselves also be guided by that Spirit in your responses to one another.
- Recall some difficult feelings you have had over the last couple of days. Try honestly to recall your reactive feelings: envy, anger, hurt, fear, anxiety … Without trying ‘to fix’ your feelings or any other ‘person’ imagine yourself speaking honestly to Jesus about the situation. Imagine him touching the hurting area, perhaps in your body. Sit quietly without trying to resolve anything. Then tomorrow come back and decide how the spirit of Jesus is inviting you to respond.
- When a storm of emotions comes upon you, what’s your tried and tested way of getting some Godly perspective?
- When a storm blows up in your local church or group, what patterns of response frequently turn up? If you were acting in the courage of the Spirit what actions would you take?
- Do you always notice that you are feeling envy, anger, etc? How can you be sure that you are not legitimising them in some way and what is the problem of allowing these raw emotions to go underground?