Friday, May 18, 2012

Galatians 6

    Paul shows the marvelous paradox that is at the heart of the Christian life. In verse 2 he tells us "bear one another's burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ." However, in verse 5 he says "For all must carry their own loads." At the surface he seems to make completely contradictory statements: how can we bear one another's burdens but only carry our own loads? But when we look at it from a healthy perspective we can see the essential truth. Unless I am carrying my own load -- in the parlance of the airlines "putting on my own oxygen mask first and then help those around me" -- I am not in any position to help another. This is a call to personal maturity and discipleship (a call to "grow up" in the faith). However, essential Christianity is not a solitary faith. It is personal but not private. John Wesley, when talking about Christian community wrote that he knew of "no religion but social religion." That is to say that the Christian faith is meant to be lived out in community. When we "bear one another's burdens" we can more effectively carry our own loads.
    Paul reminds us in 7 that God created a moral universe. We will reap what we sow. The choices and decisions I make today are forming and shaping me into the man I will be tomorrow. What I sow I will reap. If I sow to a wasteful life and life style the consequences of that waste will be realized in the future. If I sow into the Kingdom of God that kingdom becomes more quickly realized. Having said that it is good news for all that God is the giver of grace and healing. There are many times when I sowed badly and found grace. There are many times when I deserved nothing and received blessing. That is grace. In most of those times I had to bear the consequences of my actions but found love, forgiveness and acceptance from God -- all of that amazing grace.

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