Galatians 5:1, 13-25
We live in a world of winners and losers; of rivalry; division, and with that suspicion, fear and even hatred. It’s a world of us-and-them thinking; each one for himself or herself; the survival of the fittest. But we dream of living in a cooperative world where everyone is respected and all people live in harmony and at peace. The trouble is we often assume that the way to get to that is through the same old competitive practices we have lived by so much of the time: peace and harmony through domination and submission. But that approach is bound to fail. The new world must be a world where people live in freedom, not under oppression whether it be political, economic, social or religious oppression. So Paul stresses that Christ has set us free, only he warns not to use that freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. Christ sets us free from the prison of living with a self-serving, competitive, me-against-you attitude so that we can live in a world where love reigns: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Life lived within the competitive framework of self-centredness and division he calls, flesh-living. Living in the flesh is living under the impulse of our selfish desires. We need laws to restrain our aggressive flesh lives. That is so today with laws and regulations imposed by governments just as it was with the Torah or Hebrew Law in the time of Jesus and of Paul. What we are offered through Christ is life inspired by the very same Spirit that is present in creation and in all creatures, in all forgiveness and reconciliation, in Christ and in his Church, in our own lives and in those of all people – the Spirit of God. Beyond all our divisions – political, economic, cultural and religious – there is a fundamental unity expressed as love – respect, acceptance, helpfulness, compassion, understanding, sympathy. This is life in the Spirit and its fruits are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
- What is good about competition and what is bad about competition?
- What is the freedom that we have in Christ and what threatens that freedom?
- Paul called on the Galatian Christians to live by the power of the Spirit and not to slip back into living in the ways of the flesh. How relevant is this call to us today?
- If the Holy Spirit is the spirit of love, bearing fruit as suggested in Galatians 5:22-23, where do you see evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the world today?