Paul presents two polar opposites: either we ‘live by the flesh’ or we ‘live by the Spirit’. He is writing from Antioch to churches initiated by himself and Barnabas (Acts 13:14-14:26) in the Phrygian cities of Pisidian, Antioch and Iconium, and in the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe. Christian teachers had arrived from Jerusalem, who insisted that Gentile followers of Jesus must come under the Law of Moses in order to be loved by God. Circumcision must be added to Grace.
Paul therefore posits living by the laws of the flesh (circumcision) as the opposite of living by the Spirit: “ if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law (Gal 5:18). He is not suggesting that followers of Jesus are lawless, but he is rejecting the teaching of those who want to link Jewish religious codes to following Jesus. Instead, says Paul: “live by the Spirit” which will result in character qualities such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.
The invitation for this week is to worry less about who keeps what religious code, and more about how we can live side by side with gentleness and love.
ThoughtImagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the peopleLiving life in peace....
JOHN LENNON - IMAGINE LYRICS
Fifth Sunday of EasterLove is the Sign
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.167