Galatians 5:13-15 – Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Just like a car, your life, family, and church family can get out alignment and veer off course. Some people veer left toward rebellion, while other people veer right toward religion. The same thing that is true in families – where two kids can grow up in the same external environment but their internal environment runs to rebellion or religion – is also true in church families.
Rebellion is what happens when you let your flesh make your decisions. By flesh, the Bible in this instance is not speaking about the physical body, but instead a seed of rebellion and sin that is part of our fallen nature.
Religion is what happens when you let legalistic people make your decisions. The result is basically a dog fight where people “bite”, “devour”, and “consume” one another. This comes in the form of demands, punishment, criticism, fault-finding, perfectionism, and rules and more rules about the rules.
The religious people were hammering the rebellious people. The rebellious people felt unloved and domineered. It was a mess. If your family, or church family, falls into this rut, you understand this mess. If you’ve ever seen a comments thread on a blog, or a social media dogfight, you know what this mess looks like when it’s plugged into the internet.
Is there another way? Is there a road that keeps us out of the religious ditch on the right, and also keeps us out of the rebellious ditch on the left? Yes, the answer to religion and rebellion is a relationship with God. Rather than letting our flesh or other people control us, we can invite the Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us as He led Jesus Christ. This is the destination that Galatians is driving toward.
Do you lean more rebellious or more religious? Do you have the most conflicts with rebellious or religious people?