Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle this week, from Galatians 5, focused on 13-25, speaks of two ways. This, a fairly common motif of the time period, directs us by telling the way of the flesh as opposed to the way of the Spirit. It nearly goes without saying, but the Bible endorses the way of the Spirit, not the flesh.
Much current social and cultural analysis in the West is concerned with structures of power, which are assumed to lead to oppression and harm. Our general cultural response is to assume that if we overthrow the existing power structure either a kinder one will take its place or that it will remain absent and all will be well. While this is a nice idea, the apostle Paul assumes something very different.
In Galatians 5:13 the Christians have been given freedom. They are to live in that freedom, using it not to harm others but as an opportunity to love and serve others. We love our neighbor as ourselves. On the contrary, in verse 15, we are warned against using that freedom to “bite and devour one another” (ESV).
The portion of Galatians 5 which is most familiar to most people is not the ruling idea here. The works of the flesh, from verses 19-21, are the outworking of the strife and contention found in verse 15. The fruit of the Spirit, in vv. 22-23, is the outworking of freedom to love and serve one another.
If we apply this to our cultural analysis, rather than trying to overthrow power structures, we try to inflience them with the loving care of Christ. If we manage to gain a position of power, we use that power for the good of our world. Will there be those who despise that attempt? Certainly. But it is still a good thing. So, in verse 25, we strive to walk by the Spirit. This is for the good of our world. It reflects the grace of God.
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