Sunday, November 05, 2006

Serving one another

We were looking at Galatians 5:13-15 in church this morning.

It's simple stuff - Christ has set us free (from sin, religion and the Law) so that we can serve (actually the word is 'be slaves of') one another. So that's simple, then!

The context is interesting, however. He urges us not to devour one another - something he says in 5:15 and repeats in 5:26 at the end of his discussion of living in the Spirit, so it clearly matters to him. But he's also concerned that we aren't led astray by people who ought to know better.

And Paul is not polite about them - if they're so keen on circumcision, he says, let them go the whole hog and lop off their private parts altogether (5:12). In what sense isn't this Paul devouring his enemies?

Good question.

The answer lies in whether we've grasped how important it is to serve one another. The point of our freedom is not that we serve God but that we serve one another (which is the evidence that we are relatring properly to God). Paul's rivals were not serving the interests of the Galatians, but their own desire to exercise power, have followers. They were devouring the Galatians' freedom by their desire to control their behaviour. So Paul gives them short shrift.

Part of being family, being church together is that we will serve one another, help one another grow in freedom and understanding of the good news about Jesus, support one another as we live our Christian lives in the world.

This makes Galatians 5:13-15 a key membership text - because whatever words we use to describe our belonging together, our belonging should be marked by mutual service.


Wulf said...

On first glance, I misread "text" as "test" (final paragraph). However, perhaps that might be a useful addition to "membership interviews": how are you serving other people in this family?

Anonymous said...

that's an interesting comment wulf because from my experience we encourage people to serve others once we're "in membership" I think your comment about serving before membership is a good model and while that may be the aim of all good baptist churches I think it would be interesting to find out if that is how it is in reality.

Wulf said...

It is certainly something I want to look at more in my own church... just as soon as I finish the current project of turning the small groups upside down and giving them a good shaking out! ;-)