I used to be fairly active member on Newsvine. Then Seminary happened, and I found myself spending whatever free time I had in the comforts of my bed, trying to find time to rest between the massive hours of juggling classes, studying, and ministry. Now that summer has arrived and my first year of studies have come to close, I would like to be able to get into the routine of sharing with people some of the things that I have worked on and that I feel God has been teaching me in the past year.
This is the a copy of my first sermon manuscript for a Homiletics class this past semester.
Burden Bearing- Fulfilling the Law of Christ
Growing up a Pastor’s kid, in a small Evangelical Denomination, meant that I became friends with some of the other PK’s in the denomination fairly easily due to there being such a small community of churches. There is one particular PK Mike; that I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. But, thanks to the wonderful world of Social Networking, it has become simple to keep track of seemingly unimportant updates within the lives of people that we’ve never even actually met. I recently stumbled upon Mike’s facebook page on which his status read… “I am getting so sick of Christianity and church and everything in general. I’m just sick of it. Faith is a personal relationship between you and God. Not between you, God, and a church. The church is supposed to be there to encourage you and keep you accountable. Not to judge and condemn you for every stupid thing that they think is wrong and they don’t agree with.” Is there any point in your life where you have had this same thought? Is there any validity to Mike’s mindset? Is Christianity strictly a personal relationship? What is the role of the Church body in regard to its relation with individuals?
I ask that you turn with me to our text for today, Galatians 6:1-2. The church in Galatia was the only church planted in Paul’s first missionary journey. In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul is addressing this very idea of the role of the church in the lives of individuals within the body. Throughout Galatians Paul argues that anything but the TRUE Gospel is not legitimate Freedom. The problem in the book of Galatians, is that the religious sect, known as the ‘Judaizers’ or the Jewish converts in Galatia were preaching that converts to Christianity must also submit to Jewish law. That faith alone was not sufficient. Paul addresses this notion of the requirement to living under the law as contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The overarching theme of the book is that it is by God’s Grace and God’s Grace alone that we are saved. Thus the book of Galatians is an appeal to finding freedom in the Law of Christ.
In Gal 3-5: Paul writes on the relationship between the law and the Gospel.
In Gal 5- Paul writes on living Life in the Spirit which includes the passage on the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Which leads us to our Text today, Galatians 6:1-2 where Paul is addressing unity within the church, and the call for Christians to uphold one another, I will be reading today from the ESV.
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Proposition- Is Christianity solely a personal relationship between an individual and God? Is there not also an aspect of community? Brothers and sisters the message here is simple; fulfilling the Law of Christ requires burden bearing.
In this passage of scripture, Paul reveals a problem within the church community, and then identifies the means in which to go about solving that problem. He gives us a what, a How, a word of warning, and a Why. There is a problem that will persist in the church that will continually need to be addressed by the body of believers; and thus he then gives us the means of a solution in approaching the problem as well as the motivation behind addressing the ‘What.’
What are we being called to do? What is the problem that we are to address as members of the Church? We are to Restore, brothers and sisters who are caught in sin.
The What: The need to restore a Brother or Sister Caught in Sin.
v. 1… Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him.
Throughout his letters, Paul consistently refers to the church as a family, in which we are to share in the responsibility for one another’s lives. The Christian walk is not intended to be taken alone, in a life of isolation, but rather a life lived in community. The Christian walk is not solely personal, but also communal.
Part of being an active member of this community means two things:
First- If any Brother or sister in Christ is caught in Sin, we are to play an active role in helping them to rid themselves of that sin.
The word for restore that Paul uses herein Verse 1 is the same word used in Mark 1:19 to describe the apostles ‘mending’ their fishing nets. Restoration is an active process that is meant to direct our struggling brother or sister back to the path of righteousness, to restore them back to their former condition. It is not just the simple act of calling out one another when we see someone stuck in sin. If the apostles simply acknowledged that their nets were broken, what good would that do? In order for the nets to function, they need to be restored to their original condition. Likewise, Paul is not telling us to just to address this sin with our lips, but we are to assist in actively mending them, restoring them to their original state. Leading them back to the right path.
Second- If he is appealing to us to help our brothers and sisters in dealing with their sin, then we must also accept that when we ourselves are caught in our own struggles, that we need the help of others.
I must say that I find that there are a lot of people who have the same mindset as Mike. I regret to say that there was a point in time in my own life where I was almost in complete agreement with him. Let me read his quote one more time to you. “I am getting so sick of Christianity and church and everything in general. I’m just sick of it. Faith is a personal relationship between you and God. Not between you, God, and a church. The church is supposed to be there to encourage you and keep you accountable. Not to judge and condemn you for every stupid thing that they think is wrong and they don’t agree with.” There is a definite danger in the mindset that the Christian lifestyle is strictly a ‘personal’ matter. Paul makes it perfectly clear here that we are not to be approaching our Christian walks on our own. Now to some extent, Mike’s argument is legitimate. Yes, the church is indeed supposed to be there to uphold, encourage, and hold one another accountable. And no, we shouldn’t feel like the church is constantly looking down upon and judging others. Because when we judge, we are approaching this responsibility with the wrong attitude. This leads us to the How. How are we to approach restoring one another? Paul says we are to do so, in a spirit of gentleness. Let’s look again to Verse 1, and add on to it: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
The How: In a spirit of Gentleness.
This idea of Gentleness is fresh in minds of the Church in Galatia, because gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:23. So when Paul says “you who are spiritual’ he is making a direct appeal to what he has already stated in chapter 5. Those who walk in the spirit experience the fruit of the spirit, which include gentleness. If we are walking by the spirit, this should not be difficult! Approaching this task gently means approaching it humbly. Because we are all caught in our own struggles, it would be foolish to approach restoring a brother or sister in any other manner. The Christian lifestyle is not a competition. This is not a matter of ‘who is the better Christian.’ We are all fallen, broken, and dead to sin. This approach of gentleness goes hand in hand with the word of warning that Paul gives in the next line of Verse 1. We are to be aware of temptation.
The Caution: Be Aware of Temptation
1: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Because we are fallen, we need to be aware of the fact that it is possible to fall into the same Sin if we do not approach our burden bearing humbly. If we come into this task with the idea that we are ‘too spiritual’ to succumb to this sin, or ‘better than the individual’ we are attempting to restore then I fear that there will be a lot of people stumbling into sinful patterns. A recovered alcoholic should not assume that because he or she has already defeated alcoholism that it is a pattern that they are no longer likely to fall back into. We are always susceptible to falling into a pattern of habitual sin. If we go into restoring one another, blinded by our inability to recognize our fallen nature, blinded by our pride, it is in those moments that we will be most likely to give into the temptation. It is for this reason that we must restore one another in a spirit of gentleness. By humbly admitting to our own flaws we keep things at an even playing field. We rid ourselves of the competitive mindset, and we keep ourselves aware of the temptation to fall into the sin of those we are restoring. This is not about who can be the better Christian. This is about unity of the body.
The Why: Fulfilling the Law of Christ.
Finally, while verse one gives us the what and the how, Verse 2 tells us why. This is where Paul gives us our motivation, which is simply to fulfill the Law of Christ. Verse 2 says… “2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
And what is this Law? The Law of Christ is Love. We are to bear the burdens of others out of Love. When Jesus is asked by the teacher of the law what the greatest commandment is, He responds, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And then goes further to add in 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Brothers and sisters, in order to fulfill the Law of Christ, we must Love, and as a result of our love we must be quick to restoring one another when we are caught in sin, when we are burdened. Furthermore, adhering to the Law of Christ, means adhering to Christ’s example of love, which points us immediately to the cross. It may seem rudimentary but there is simply no greater example of one bearing another’s burdens than that of Jesus, paying the price that is rightfully ours, giving up His life for the forgiveness of our Sins. The Cross is Love. The Cross is Burden bearing. The cross is our motivation. The Cross is why. Our response to the reality of the cross means following the example of Jesus. Christ bore our burdens; therefore we are to bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters. By doing so, we are living in light of Christ’s command to love. In doing so, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. Fulfilling the Law of Christ requires burden bearing.
And so brothers and sisters, let me challenge you and myself today. How will you respond when you see a fellow Christian struggling with their walk with the Lord. Will you turn the other way? Will you simply say, this is not my problem to deal with. Will you take pride in yourself since you are not struggling with that same sin? Or will you out of love reach out a hand of gentleness, in helping to restore that person.
Furthermore, if there is something in our hearts that we are struggling with, let us not just sit and complain about how hard a struggle it is. Be Active, do something about it. Share your burden with someone willing to walk step by step with you. We are not meant to tough it out alone. The Christian walk is not strictly personal, it is also communal. Christ bore our burdens, and thus we are to bear one another's.