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A Spirit Filled Community

Weekly Devotionals

A Spirit Filled Community

Galatians 5:13-18

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

There’s a lot of biting and devouring going on these days. Turmoil and strife seem to overrun the news headlines. Add a pandemic into the mix and it feels like this cocktail of anxiety is the choice drink that many are imbibing. Chaos has a way of bringing out the worst in us, especially when the threat of resources drying up hits close to home. Self-preservation is often our first instinct when any sort of peril comes our way and Cain’s dispiriting retort of “…am I my brother’s keeper” seems to be the sign of the times. It’s a chilling question to ask ourselves and it’s a question that threads through much of scripture.

That drumbeat of chaos made its way to a small community of churches in Galatia and Paul is fighting against a group of  dissenters who are trying to create fissures in the community. In the last few chapters of Galatians, Paul reminds his readers
that real freedom includes the consideration of others, as self-preservation and selfishness will ultimately imprison us and lead to destruction. Paul has a clear concern for communal unity and the “works of the flesh” listed in verses19-21 all point towards offenses against the unity of the community. There is an obvious social function tied to the gospel and church communities are to reflect and practice the same communal love that Christ gave to all.

Mutual service is what the Spirit filled life looks like and the Church today needs to hear that word from God more than ever. I want to urge the Jubilee family to be prayerful that selfish ideas of freedom don’t infiltrate the ethos of our community. Our anchored world view rests on Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, and not on the list of -isms that we love to rally around when chaos strikes. Building that ethos isn’t a matter of our will either, but it’s through a living relationship with our Lord and king. We all have access to God’s presence and the next time you feel like vice will triumph over virtue, ask the Lord for help. Truth be told, willpower can only take us so far and Paul understood that predicament better than anyone. The reservoir of human strength will always dry up and the biblical story reveals time and again that God ALWAYS wants to breathe life into dry bones.

That’s the kind of freedom that I long for. May that be the Spirit filled life that our community reflects in these trying times.