Lent Devotions: Turn toward one another

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).           

By Brook Scott                   

Galatians 5:1-6, 13-15

Paul exhorts the Galatians to turn away from ritualistic religiosity. To blindly follow religious law is to be enslaved again. It is to miss the whole message of the Gospel. Instead, Paul explains that the true message is one of love. Not just any love but a powerful, inexplicable love that works through the Holy Spirit, in God’s grace, and in faith in Jesus Christ. We must turn away from ourselves and our self-indulgent ways.

That’s the hard part.

Paul’s message of turning toward one another is also full of hope. It is the message that allows me to try to make sense of what is happening around me today. It demands that I turn away from the hate-filled rhetoric of the presidential election. It demands that I challenge the senseless racism which is ingrained in insidious ways in all of our institutions, especially in our criminal justice system.

Paul’s message is a call to arms. It demands action. Paul exhorts us to make community the center of our focus, away from self. It is in service toward others, in the example of Jesus Christ, that we can achieve wholeness. Paul demands that we move from our old ways to new ways through loving freedom. Rather than be enslaved by a system that denies the humanity of others, we are ordered “through love, to become slaves to one another.” To do otherwise is to negate the love of God given to us by grace through the work of the Holy Spirit in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now that’s freedom that can truly transform us and the world. 

Brook Scott is pursuing a Master of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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