Monday, May 12, 2014

Spiritual Living


Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14  For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15  If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16  Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19  Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22  By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

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.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace....

Fifth  Sunday of Easter
Love is the Sign
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 167.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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