What really matters – Galatians 6:1-16

 

Have you ever felt exhausted and that the work that you do feels like it’s going nowhere? Or the things that you sacrifice don’t get the appreciation that you think it deserves? Yup, same here! But Galatians 6:1-16 reminds us that these efforts will pay off, if not today. It might sometimes feel like a long and difficult journey, but let’s be reminded that if we do everything with pure intention and love in our hearts, then that’s what really matters.

iconEpisode Transcript

Brian: Welcome to the Queer Theology podcast!

Fr. Shay: Where each episode, we take a queer look at the week’s lectionary readings. We’re the co-founders of QueerTheology.com and the hosts for this podcast. I’m Father Shay Kearns

B: And I’m Brian G. Murphy.

Good morning!!! Today is Sunday, July 7th, 2019. We are going to be looking at Galatians 6:1-16, I will read it to you now.

Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too. Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves. Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others. Each person will have to carry their own load.

Those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher.

Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

Look at the large letters I’m making with my own handwriting! Whoever wants to look good by human standards will try to get you to be circumcised, but only so they won’t be harassed for the cross of Christ. Those who are circumcised don’t observe the Law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised, so they can boast about your physical body.

But as for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through him, and I have been crucified to the world. Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t mean anything. What matters is a new creation. May peace and mercy be on whoever follows this rule and on God’s Israel.

Okay, Shay. Seems like there’s a little bit of beef that’s going on here. What do you make of this passage and what does it say for LGBTQ Christian folks.

FS: Oh, Paul!

B: I know right?

FS: Or whoever wrote this, but probably Paul. I just, it just makes me laugh sometimes.

B: Also like, gurl you’re boasting!

FS: Oh always! Always, always, always. The thing that really jumped out at me this time was verses 7 through 10, this idea of harvesting what you plant. And particularly this: let’s not get tired of doing good because, in time, we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. I don’t know about you, but I’ve just been feeling exhausted lately. My body has been telling me that I’m exhausted with back pain and sickness. Some of that might be aging, but I think some of it is just the world that we live in. Right? And holding myself tense. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what is the work that I can do? What is it that I need to be planting right now? Where am I investing my time and energy? Where do I need to shake the dust off my feet and say, “I’m not doing that anymore.”? I think it’s been a helpful practice to just admit that you can not do everything. But also, just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean that you are off the hook and you just get to do nothing. And so I think that this thinking, especially about planting and that the seeds that you are planting may not look like much right now, but that they will eventually create some kind of harvest.

I think a lot about like it’s really important to again remember the context. This again is being written to a group of people who were marginalized and oppressed. Who were able to maybe just plant small things. And so I think sometimes, I want to say to straight, cis, white Christians: you might be exhausted too, but you don’t get off the hook at all. Because you have to be taking down the privilege and the world that you live in so that the people who are extra crushed under the weight of all of this can survive and can live. I’m seeing a lot of folks with a ton of privilege also talking about being exhausted which I hear, and I think is really valid. But also, they’re really protected from a lot of the things that are shit in the world. So I need folks to read this with a lens of like where you’re sitting in the spectrum of privilege, right? The work that you might be called to do might be more exhausting and we might need you to do that work so that folks that are being really ground down can have a respite for a couple of days. So that was I feel really rambling but like part of what’s coming up for me in this passage.

B: I have two wildly different thoughts about this passage. There’s this whole bit about circumcision which I sort of love and want to get to. But this idea of planting and harvesting I think also really resonates with me and also, my little spidey senses go up a little bit. I’m worried that it could be twisted into this law of attraction or prosperity gospel: if you just do this, then this will happen. That God or the universe, in my experience, doesn’t really work that way. I think there’s something to leap and it will appear; build it and it will come; if you believe it you can achieve it. There is something there, but it’s not like a transaction. It’s not like a formula or an equation. And so, finding that balance between doing this work because you think it’s important and you trust that good will come of it. Sometimes, that sort of trust that you’re planting seeds that will be harvested in the future is what keeps you going, right? But how do you do that without falling into this: well, I’m only doing this because of that and the universe owes me. So I don’t know quite what to do there. Also, at the same time, this work that we do, we make no money from it or very, very little and we’ve been doing it for seven, eight years now. Sometimes, it’s just exhausting. We get hate mail constantly, and then in between that also, we get like people who are really struggling and going through it. It’s beautiful that we can walk alongside them and support them. I mean the number of LGBTQ teenagers who are living in closeted places, in anti-gay places that reach out to us and say that this has been a lifeline for me is staggering. It’s like a holy, beautiful responsibility and it takes work, and I’m happy to do it and I’m grateful for it.

And also, sometimes people write and say, this thing that you wrote or this video that you made, or this thing that you posted years ago — I just found today and that helps me get up today. There is something true, we are planting seeds and sometimes we see the results right away. Like people will respond to the podcast the day it goes out, and sometimes people will years later say: I heard this and it made a difference. That definitely keeps me going. When the work is hard and the pay is not great, and I don’t have or I have terrible health insurance, at least we’re trying to build the kingdom of God together, so that’s cool!

[outro music plays]
B: The Queer Theology podcast is just one of many things that we do at QueerTheology.com which provides resources, community, and inspiration for LGBTQ Christians and straight cisgender supporters.

FS: To dive into more of the action, visit us at QueerTheology.com. You can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and Instagram.

B: We’ll see you next week.

Download the transcript (PDF)

Today’s highlights:

  • How the things that we do today, will reap a bountiful harvest in the future
  • That it’s okay to feel exhausted and accept that we can’t do EVERYTHING
  • Father Shay encourages us to look at this passage from where you are sitting in the spectrum of privilege. That while you are protected with this privilege, take advantage of it, so that those who don’t enjoy the same privilege as you do will get to survive.
  • How “planting seeds and harvesting” relates to what Brian and Shay do in their day-to-day ongoings at QueerTheology
  • Continue working on what you think you do best and know that someone out there is able to “deal” with life because of you

Galatians 6:1-16

Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too. Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves. Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others. Each person will have to carry their own load.

Those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher.

Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

Look at the large letters I’m making with my own handwriting! Whoever wants to look good by human standards will try to get you to be circumcised, but only so they won’t be harassed for the cross of Christ. Those who are circumcised don’t observe the Law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised, so they can boast about your physical body.

But as for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through him, and I have been crucified to the world. Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t mean anything. What matters is a new creation. May peace and mercy be on whoever follows this rule and on God’s Israel.

Photo by Benjamin Davies

This article was published by Brian & Shay, Queer Theology