Missing the Point

Posted: July 4, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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This week winds the road of discovery, and renewal of Spirit. It acknowledges our holistic self, that is what the Medicine Wheel teaches of the mind, body, soul and spirit. Let’s be honest, to often we get sucked into the idea of puffing ourselves up. Collecting awards, growing our bank accounts, or more that gives us status and prestige in life. In the midst of it all though we forget who we are, and why we are here. It is an easy path to veer off of.

The Christian Testament readings brings us into the Epistles (fancy word for letters) to early gatherings. It is a letter written between 49-55 CE, by Paul. Galatia was a territory in Asia minor, populated by Celtic settlers. An intriguing backdrop as if it has a later writing then Paul is in the midst of the Corinthian conflicts, and just before he wrote to the gathering in Rome. This is a letter used in the 16th Century during the Protestant Reformation debates around faith and justification as Reformers, being used by local monarchs for Empire building, argued with Roman Catholic Clerics the vestige of elder Empire building.

Yet these words are used today, as we come with our own stories and eyes to speak to us. And what is within? The lectionary lays out 5:1, 13-26.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

-Galatians 5:1 (New Revised Standard Version)

Paul levels the opening of this chapter with a huge issue in the ancient world. The role of slavery. Now we like to pretend this has been put to rest, but slavery still exists within our capitalistic globalization in places that do not pay living wages, or more horrendously within human trafficking. What Paul is reminding folks is not to let the divisions that had existed before carry into the gathering.

That is that in Christ, there is no labels of separation. He is reminding folks not to surrender to the old. What are ways that we leave our path? We chase what we assume will make us the next “it” thing. Whether it is technology, fashion, faux body image, the list can go on for what we assume are positive, yet there is also negative labels that we throw down to create separation and keep people divided. Think along the lines of the arguments about are you “insert group here” one of us? That’s our money? the hoops one has to jump through to qualify for aid. The idea the value of the person rests on ability, sobriety, gender identity or economics.

This leads us into later in the chapter with ancient echoes:

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;[c] only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,[d] but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[e] 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.

-Galatians 5:13-21 (NRSV)

Slaves to one another… does that mean no boundaries? No, it is an ancient metaphor on loving self and neighbour as Paul points out the summation of everything in Love. He directly uses the outcast label, the non-person label as a stark and strong reminder that we are all images of the holy. It invalidates that label. Paul then uses Greek Platonic philosophy to illustrate the false separation of body and spirit. He points out that because we are in the Spirit we are different. The things laid out were the ways that the Empire used to de-value, control and oppress the masses. It was also was the controllers used to suppress their own traumas of what they had survived to rise to power.

It is the seeking of power to the setting aside of the value of love and the image of God.

Let’s hear that again: It is the seeking of power to the setting aside of the value of love and image of God.

Truly, you have made everyone around you nothing more than numbers, labels or functions for your own fulfillment. It is what the current religious right use in our society to point to loss of “God” in our world. Yet what is lost, is God being used to cover up what Paul wrote here of, the separation of the children of God, the abuse, and misuse to build power. Things that should be set aside. The label making remnant of Eugenics in a world where you must prove yourself human enough and worthy enough to exist in society. That is the “flesh” fallacies Paul was writing of, but he did not end there.

While Paul, leads you out of Empire living, into the heart of the Great Commandment Brother Jesus laid out. What happens when we enter into that healthy Love circle:

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

-Galatians 5:22-26 (NRSV)

It is moving beyond black and white, moving beyond labels and coding. To seeing the person before us, and authentically living in the gray of life. A gray that allows the circle of inclusion to be drawn wide, and within the width, authentic belonging becomes the norm.

As the Kingdom is near… will we be the tipping point?

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