WEEK THREE, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY
DAY TWO THEME: GROWING COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE: GALATIANS 6:1-2 (CEB)
“Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too. Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: “You who are spiritual”… When we take on Christ through accepting him into our hearts and following in his steps, we will react like him to all of life’s circumstances. But, what happens when we are at odds with one another or even within ourselves?
One of my favorite long term Bible Studies was “JESUS IN THE GOSPELS”. Over roughly a 30-week period, participants slowly “crawl” through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, reading each assignment repititiously in each of the Gospels containing the same story of Jesus. In that manner you see through two, three and sometimes four different witnesses the same miracle, or teaching of Jesus, or event. This focus helps to almost see these passage in 3D – they begin to lift off the page and more become “touchable”.
In watching the life of Jesus as described in the New Testament, Jesus handles disputes and even misunderstandings with grace and mercy – offering opportunities for healing and growth. He would be firm – like when Peter wanted to protect him from going to the cross, saying “Get the behind me, Satan!” But he didn’t stop with that, he didn’t kick Peter out, he stayed on his path and allowed Peter to keep on learning and reach better and better understanding. Even after Peter betrayed Jesus three times during Jesus’ trial, Jesus made a personal visit in resurrected form to restore Peter and set his course as the Rock that the Church was built upon.
In another incident, when the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, his behavior was contradictory to the culture of his day. In all the legalities and the culture of his day, Jesus should have participated in this sinful woman’s stoning. Instead, though, Jesus gently squatted down and drew in the sand with his finger. After a bit, he challenged the angry crowd that any without sin should begin the stoning. The challenge stopped the whole event in its tracks. After all her accusers had departed, he released the woman with the command to go and sin no more. He set her free – not just physically for the moment, but surely for all of eternity. He didn’t follow up on her or check in with her, he released her. I believe that those few moments while Jesus was squatting and drawing in the sand, he was taking a moment to pray before addressing the situation. This was a teaching moment for all involved concerning the injustices of both the legal and cultural rules of the day. His simple and convicting words dissolved the whole situation without any harm, allowing room for growth and healing for all involved. As we all realize that we are not without sin ourselves, we are better equipped to spread grace and mercy and expand God’s Kingdom just like Jesus did!
Gentleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which means it is not natural humanity. Our first tendency as human beings is to be a bit snobby, righteous and judgmental. If the behavior at hand is not what I would do or how I would behave, then it MUST be wrong and therefore worthy of my judgment. The work of the Holy Spirit comes in to change that for us and to allow us to do just what Galatians is pointing us toward. Judgment causes conflict and puts up defenses. Gentleness allows relationship and understanding. Sometimes what we feel is right or wrong for us individually may not be the same for another, therefore our judgment could be wrong altogether. Our disciplinary correction at that point without understanding could cause a permanent rift in the relationship and we would no longer be effective for that person or any persons at all as we move further from the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Offending others is so easy and thumping scriptures that are pulled out of context for those purposes only confuses the whole Gospel. When in times of conflict or disagreement over any issue our first and most valuable step would to be to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This third person of the Holy Trinity is our guide, our advocate, our comforter. Through seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit and waiting on that guidance to become clear, many conflicts and disagreements can be averted and common ground and understanding are allowed to flourish enabling growth in the Kingdom of God.
May God grant us the wisdom to realize that we do not have all the answers! May God bless us with the ability to squat and pray in the face of anger and determined wrong. May God grant us the patience to seek His Face through the Holy Spirit and the ability to enable a healthy and unified Kingdgom of God though all of our actions and reactions.
“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage”!