Reading: Galatians 6: 1-6
In Galatians Paul is writing to a church that is beginning to fracture from within. From the outside the people are seeing the church as contradictory and unattractive. Over the many years since this has been a frequent occurrence. As time rolls along we just find different things to fight about while the secular world usually watches with held breath.
The Galatian church was basically arguing over membership requirements. Those with Jewish roots were arguing that all makes must be circumcised and that the Torah Law must be followed. To these folks one must become a good Jew before one could become a Christian. This ‘follow all our rules so you can be just like us’ attitude is nothing new. There was a time when women had no voice and later no leadership roles in the church. There was a time when all of the churches were very homogeneous and races and ethnicities did not mix.
On the other end of the spectrum Paul found those who did and allowed almost anything. Under the beliefs that God alone should judge and that God is all about love, they were living lives without any constraints. As long as they did not harm others with their actions they thought God would forgive anything. This approach, if taken just one step further, can have disastrous results.
Paul counseled a middle ground. He first established that salvation comes only through the saving work of Jesus on the cross. There is no rule we can follow and no action we can take to save ourselves. Following all the rules and laws in the world will not save us. Doing good act after good act all the days of our lives will not save us. We are saved through faith in Christ alone. Paul also balanced this with Christ’s guidelines for our life. We are to daily take up our own cross to follow Him. We are to do the things Jesus did: love God above all else, love neighbor as self, serve all of our brothers and sisters as living sacrifices. Paul believed that out of the saving relationship we find through Christ that we would be led to live as Christ lived. This day may we each take up our cross and follow in Jesus’footsteps, being love lived out to our God and to all we meet.