The wonderfully reassuring passage speaks of accepting the risks of caring for one another. Chapter 6 of Paul’s letter to the Galatians affirms that Christians have received the Spirit. Not a special group within the church, but the Christian congregation as such is charged with the restoration of straying members. Such efforts at restoration are a risky business, involving the possibility of further misunderstanding and conflict, self-righteousness, and offending the straying members even further. As his own letter shows, for Paul the business of being a caring congregation is risky, and it accepts the risks.
The effort to live a Christian life is not a solo performance but is like playing in a symphony, being members of a family in which there is mutual care. Though free from the law of Christ as a way to salvation, acts of Christian love fulfill the law as illuminated by Christ.
Paul urges mutual care for those of the family of faith and fellow members of the Christian community. He makes it clear that Christian concern is not limited to taking care of the needs of church members, but is directed to all. The church is in the world to represent God’s care for the whole world, whether or not the world responds.
It is this caring that encourages so many churches to have missions outside their immediate congregations. Churches provide missions and ministries for the homeless, the addicted, the alcoholic, those on parole or probation, and a host of other brothers and sisters in need. They reach their arms far to encompass people in faraway lands, providing education, medical care, housing and food. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of each of us as sons and daughters of God.
Help us always to support the church to the best of our financial ability, for without our faith, we would have nothing. Help us also to reach out to one another in need and to teach, to give and to share as one family under the wings of the Holy Spirit. Grant us strength in times of trial and plenty in times of want.
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