June 24, 2019
By Andrew Page.
Drew Page is the Digital Media Editor for the CT, MA, and RI Conferences of the UCC.
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. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 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.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
In his letter to Galatians, Paul is arguing against a powerful opponent. Eugene Peterson calls it "Legalism" in The Message. It's the justification used by those who want to turn "freedom" into a license to do what they want.
What strikes me about this passage is the conciseness of it. Not many parts of scripture lay out before us the substance of the Christian faith in so few lines.
Live by the Spirit who provided us with everything; with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus came to show us this way, taking our sins away through his sacrifice.
I'm not one for cherry-picking from the bible; there a too many ways that method can be used to say whatever the harvester wants. But I have to say there is beauty in those simple, memorable phrases that can remind us how we are supposed to act. I'm a big fan of the phrase often heard at Silver Lake: "Love God, love yourself, love your neighbor, love creation."
It's so simply, so easy to remember.
What boggles the mind is how often we forget it; how often Legalism – the righteous desire to justify our own needs above others' – becomes the path we choose. More mind boggling are those voices who choose self over others in the name of Christianity. Here in Milwaukee, I've heard discussions about immigration, LGBTQ concerns, racism, attacks on women's rights and autonomy, the plight of children, both ours and those of our brothers and sisters from other nations. In every one of these conversations, a small group of people is looking at their own situation and arguing for a narrow concern that seems to follow this same Legalism. Thankfully, the body in general has chosen to love.
See this story from the 32nd General Synod on an artists interpretation of love in worship.
Holy God, help us to remember the simple message of love that you show us in the world, through the creation you brought to be, to the people you set to protect it.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congregational Church in South Glastonbury UCC
First Congregational Church of South Windsor, UCC
Wapping Community Church UCC
South Britain Congregational Church
United Church of Christ, Southbury
This Week in History:
June 24, 2019 (Today) The 32 General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted on a resolution to allow the CT, MA, and RI Conferences to form a new Conference. (The outcome will be posted as soon as we know it.)
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Starting With Scripture: June 24, 2019 , by Andrew Page.