THE SCANDAL OF THE CROSS


And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offence/scandal of the cross (τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ) has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you (about circumcision) would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal 5: 11-18)

Those who “troubled“ the Galatians were dragging them into divisive, biting, and ultimately church-destructive arguments and concerns. These were concerns not of the Spirit, but of the flesh; concerns about the (externals of the) Law, made obsolete by “the scandal of the cross.“ St. Paul urges them, and us, when we’re being dragged down into unnecessary battles with one another, on the hot-button issues of the day, and away from the scandal of the Cross and its liberating “walk in the Spirit“: flee to the higher ground, he says, of “serving one another through love.“

Let me not be “troubled“ today, nor bullied into concerns that are of the flesh, however noble or just or patriotic they seem at the moment. “For you have been called to liberty,“ the Apostle reminds me today. I am free to decide to love, both myself and my neighbor, and my neighbour as myself, rather than remain stuck in anger. “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19b-20)

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