“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2 TNIV)
I have been reflecting on these verses a lot over the past few days. I think they are central to the Apostle Paul’s basic understanding of Christian community and therefore community ethics. I also think that Galatians 6:1-2 captures in practice what it means to live after the way of the Good Shepherd, who is Jesus.
A couple things that have really struck me:
(1) “If someone is caught in sin…“
The Greek here means something along the lines of “entangled with, caught up in” as opposed to “caught in the act”. In other words, “if someone is entangled with and caught up in a sin…” — it is worth noting that this, then, applies to all of us at some point in our lives — and perhaps more often than we care to admit.
(2) “Restore that person gently…”
Restoration of the person lies at the heart of the Gospel message and at the center of Christian community. Sadly, we don’t have a great track record in this area. The message of the Cross is that God is in the restoration business! All things can be reconciled and restored through the broken body of Christ on the Cross. So where does healing and restoration take place today? Still through the power and in the midst of the broken Body of Christ — which very much is the church, is Christian community. The Bible says that we (the Church) are the Body of Christ. Indeed, a broken Body at that! But Christ’s Body is still in the restoration business! That is why restoration and healing happens best in the context of a local church community. Community restores. Community heals. Christ works through His Body, the church.
(3) “Carry each other’s burdens…”
Again, a reminder of what Christian community (which I think is synonynous with local church) is all about!
These are powerful verses and ideas. But they are even more powerful when lived out! Authentic Biblical Christian community must be restorative, healing, gentle, and supportive (“carrying”) — for we are His Body.