by: Rev. Chris Troxel, Associate Pastor
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” - Galatians 6:2
Wait a second, law of Christ? I thought Jesus was all about Gospel, forgiveness, grace! What’s Paul thinking here? In this letter, Paul is confronting people trying to earn their way into community. He is also confronting others in that Early Church community giving people more to do than to just follow Jesus. Not Early Church like 8am on Sunday; this is the Early Church the Holy Spirit was building through the Apostles for Jews and non-Jews. Paul is referencing what John wrote about Jesus’ last moments with the apostles moments before he was betrayed. He’s trying to remind them about how to handle sins and life together. Paul does not say to start over somewhere else. He does not say confront each other by being blunt. Paul references the law of Christ.
The law of Christ is found in John 13 through 17. The apostle John retells Jesus’ last moments with his closest followers and friends before betrayal, death, and resurrection. At this point, it’s like they were wearing masks. Some of the disciples were concerned with ambition and how close they were going to be with Jesus (James and John). Some wanted their own will to be done, instead of God’s will (Peter). Some were all about the money (Judas). All of them had moments when they were more afraid than faithful. All of them believed in Jesus but misunderstood His mission. So he begins to help them grasp what is most important from His mission and ministry. These words from Jesus come right after he, their rabbi, Lord, and Messiah washes the grossness of their feet. Jesus tells them to do likewise (John 13:14), and then ultimately what that means is to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Paul reminds Jesus-followers in Galatia, and his words remind us as well, that as we learn how to love one another, we begin at the end: “...as I have loved you.” We only know what love is because God displayed it through Jesus. Second, we only know love because the disciples and apostles loved one another, and they passed on to their followers what Jesus showed them. Third, in Galatians 6, the first part of the verse reveals how we love one another: we bear each others’ burdens. We sin, we hurt, and we learn how to heal - together. Jesus takes our masks off by giving us the freedom to be honest about our sin and pain.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He gave his disciples the Spirit which opened their minds and hearts to understand everything he taught before. Jesus gives us the same Spirit. So now, we too can look to Jesus to be reminded of His self-sacrificing love for us. The love that saves us from sin and death moves us to love each other by remaining with each other. Even in the midst of hurt and sin, we forgive. We pray; we worship the God that calls us by name, takes our masks off, and makes us His own loved children. We follow him into a world of masks, sharing the love of Jesus, mask-free.