A Wider Vision
In Paul’s concluding words to the Galatians, he encourages them to work with others in the grace and peace of Christ, dedicating themselves to the good of all.
Scripture: Galatians 6:1-16
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbour’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.
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A Wider Vision
Freedom to live in love and mercy of Christ — I say this in Bible Background Video. When I do, I am talking about the differences Paul discusses in the oppressive nature of living under the law and the freedom we have when we live in the love of Christ. However, I believe this is a challenging thing for us as humans and as a Christians.
Certainly, we don’t follow the Hebrew laws in the sense that Paul is talking about, but we have our own set of unwritten laws that can be just as oppressive as what Paul is discussing. Every church and every decade will have it’s own incarnation of what these laws are, but they are also predictable in other ways. Sometimes the laws center around things like drinking, dancing, sexuality, and other perceived moral issues. Other times, these unwritten laws are more difficult to detect because it has to do with things like how often you volunteer at church, what your family structure looks like, who you marry, how your children act, and other life situation that are less easy to control. They all center around what a community believes makes you a “good” Christian.
Here is the thing – when God made people, God said it was very good. God loves us no matter how good of person or Christian we are. If you have ever been loved unconditionally in your life, you know what a feeling of freedom comes with that love. To be know for who you are and to be loved anyway is one of the greatest gifts one human can give another. And God has given it to every single one.
If I were leading this session, I would spend time getting my grou to talk about the unwritten laws in their lives growing up and ways they have managed to move closer to a sense of living in love rather than under those laws.s
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Nikki’s Video Script
A Wider Vision
Today, we are in Galatians for the final time in chapter 6:1-18. We come to the end of this unique Pauline letter and notice a couple of things. First, Paul sounds a little like a teacher or preacher who’s trying to pile all the left over bits of a lesson into the last 3 min of class. He’s trying to get all the rest of his points as quickly as he can. Things like….
Be gentle with those who sin, but take care to not be tempted yourself; bear one another’s burdens; Don’t think more of yourself than you aught to; don’t grow weary of doing what is right…so on and so on. It kind of sounds a little like a hodgepodge of grandmother’s wisdom….
Now, if Paul were writing verse 11 on social media or text message today, he would use ALL CAPS. I laugh every time I read this verse because Paul’s passion, which I can identify with, come out strongly — and apparently it comes out in his hand writing. Paul is trying to get his final point across that when we are concerned about how other perceive us, when we are worried only with what other see, our confidence is not in God, but rather in our own ability to follow the law or in our ability to get others to follow the law.
Paul wants us to get out of that mindset. Paul is calling us all to stop relying on our own ability to “make a good showing,” “to do what we are supposed to do.” Paul wanted the church at Galatia, and I imagine he would want us to understand that our ability to claim we are doing well, that our ability to boast about who we are, what we do, how we do it, is only fleeting. In the end, the only one we may boast in is Christ. Paul claims that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of trying to do the right thing and follow the right law because in the person Jesus, those things no longer matter.
In verse 10, he says to them, every time we can, let us work for the good of all. Paul wanted everyone to benefit. He wanted everyone to rise together.
As we have moved through Paul’s letter to the Galatians, I have been struck in a different way about Paul’s call for freedom. He believed that if we crawl out from under the crushing and punishing law, we can be freed to live in love and mercy of Christ. This freedom allows us a wider vision of all that God is working to accomplish in this world. As you consider today’s text, think back over that last several weeks and see what themes emerge for you and your group.