Inspired by Spirit #5: faith expressing itself through love

Today, we carry on exploring much the same theme as yesterday, bu that’s OK. Some things bear repeating.

The big issue for the Jewish Christians in Galatia is circumcision. Doubts have crept in about abandoning this practice – what if Paul has got it all wrong? What if God still requires this act of devotion? And so they are hedging their bets –  going ahead with circumcision whilst professing to be followers of Christ. But the act of circumcision represents so much more than the act itself. It conveys a lack of trust in the grace of God, a lack of belief in the good news that Jesus has done it all for them.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  Galatians 5: 4-6

‘Fallen away from grace’ – that’s what Paul’s sad about, that’s what Paul’s addressing.

It can so easily happen. For each one of us, the issue won’t be circumcision, but there will be an issue, a sticking point for many.

‘I want to believe that God……but I was brought up to believe that……’

We’re scared to let that belief system go, even if we can see that that way of thinking and believing has been damaging for us. Because what if that pastor, that parent, that youth leader was right all along?

What are we called to do then? ‘Eagerly await’. That’s it. There’s nothing passive about that though, is there? We don’t need to run around fulfilling that list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ that we talked about yesterday, but neither do we disengage completely. Through the Spirit, we eagerly await – there’s a dynamism in that waiting, an energy – can you sense that? We’re waiting for God to bring to completion that which He has already started – the restoration and completion of His righteousness within each one of us.

And in that waiting, we show love in action in our everyday lives. It all boils down to love. The expression of our faith is love.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Think of all the things that ‘count’ in your spiritual life – the things that you are getting worked up about right now; the commitments that are draining all the energy from you; the rigid beliefs that are sucking the love and joy from your soul.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Yes, maybe those things are maybe exactly the ways in which you have been called to serve God. But maybe not. Maybe it’s time to let go of what is holding us back and move forward into the freedom that God has called us to.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

How much more simple would life be if this was the truth we lived by!

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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  Galatians 5:13-15

This freedom into which we have been called is not the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want to. The bottom line is love. Always love. We are called to express our faith through love by serving one another humbly in love.

And so it’s not that we necessarily need to change what we are doing but the way in which we are doing it. Everything we do may be in need of a fresh injection of love. We may feel we cannot do that alone, but don’t worry, we don’t need to. The Spirit can fill us with all the love that we need to be kind to that super annoying work colleague, to be the bigger person, to not bite back when someone hurts us, to keep forgiving that child over and over again, to pick ourselves up to serve again when the plate has been flung back in our face.

When I look around, I feel that it is love that has been missing from the Christian community. When others look at the local church or Christians in the media, is it love that they see in action before them? So often, not.

We’ve over-complicated faith, when all we were ever called to do is love. All we need to do is love.

God will take care of the rest.

PS: Don’t ever tell me again about that Christian you know who knows their Bible so well, but has spoken out in condemnation of your gay brother. I’m sick of hearing about those so-called spiritual people who impress with their Bible knowledge but are destroying the lives and wellbeing of those around them. Those people do not know their Bible well because if they did, they would know that Jesus taught more about loving others than about anything else. Those people do not impress me. We need to get on with our job of loving others and never for one moment believe that what those people are saying holds any sway. We know our Bible too, people! Let’s have confidence in the God of love and model His love every single day!

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1 Response

  1. Becca says:

    Another excellent piece Helen! Thank you for reminding me of the most important thing once again xx

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