Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
It has always been the tendency of the human mind to subjugate spiritual things to the judgments, acceptableness, and controls that our ego nature is most comfortable with. However, the Spirit is an eternal dimension that animates our conscience and consciousness with an inner Light that can effect for the better our experiences and relationships in day to day life.
The few paragraphs below are taken from a letter written by the apostle Paul to an enclave of ethnic Celts (or “Gauls”) who had migrated centuries earlier from Central Europe to what is now modern Turkey in an area then called “Galatia”. Prior to hearing and embracing the message of Light brought to them by Jewish followers of the teachings of Jesus, these Celts had been practitioners of a warrior-based fanatical Druid religious system that was rooted in violence.
At that time (within several decades of Jesus’ death) there was no organized new religion called “Christianity”; all non-Jewish followers of Jesus’ teachings essentially converted to Judaism, accepting the requirement that they adhere to the many religious laws (rules) observed by all Jews – including male circumcision (at the time of conversion).
Paul, himself a Jew, was of the opinion that the Light brought to humankind by Jesus also brought a freedom from enslavement to the judgments, acceptableness, and controls that religious systems imposed. In this letter to the newly converted Galatians (taken from The Message Bible), he passionately presents to them what a life in the Spirit looks like.
From Paul of Tarsus to the Galatians:
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.
Each of us is an original.