“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.” (Galatians 5:14-15)
If you attend a rural/small town church like me you’ve been to a few potlucks. They seem to be a vanishing tradition in our days of instant-everything-crazy-fast-paced-two-income-earning households, but where we live every fifth Sunday is always potluck Sunday.
Everyone seems to enjoy trying their luck at the pot as they line up, hoping that their favorite dish isn’t gone when they reach the front of the line.
As a pastor’s wife, my husband and I are often busy chatting with people after the service, so we tend to wait until everyone has gone through the line since we are occupied caring for other things. There are times when the food has been hit pretty hard, and the spread that I passed while I scurried around finding the people I needed to talk to after the service has been nearly demolished by the time we get our turn in line.
That food has been bitten, devoured, consumed—gone! (It’s a good thing our kitchen people don’t bring the dessert out at the same time!)
As I have been studying the one another statements in Scripture over the last month or so, these verses from Galatians 5 have stuck out to me as the key passage for summarizing what it does and doesn’t mean to love one another in the Body of Christ.
A few weeks back we looked at how Jesus gave the disciples the new commandment to love one another as He loved them by serving them, laying down His life, in fact. By washing each other’s feet, the disciples could publish to the world that they belonged to Him.
But as Christians we need to heed the warning in this passage in Galatians—that if you don’t love your neighbor as yourself but instead choose to bite and devour each other you will be consumed by one another.
I am afraid sometimes that our potlucks illustrate how we treat each other in the Body of Christ. Everyone tries to be the first in line; everyone picks their favorite things and scrapes the bowl clean, devouring every last bite until it’s all consumed, done, destroyed with only a pile of dirty dishes left to wash up.
Instead of humbly serving one another with encouragement, kindness, and forgiveness which builds each other up, we are puffed up with judgment, envy, complaints, and anger which all serve to tear each other down.
Now…I’m not against potlucks. I want to keep having them, but I hope that my life and the lives of the people in my church are not known for devouring each other like the food at their potlucks but for humbly serving one another in love.
Anyone have a dish rag?
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