Modern pictures often portray contrasting colours. They are rather striking – whites and yellows set against blues, blacks and reds. This style is used in advertising to grab our attention. Our reading today in Galatians does not set colours in contrast but human behaviour! It describes the good things in human behaviour that God and our Saviour Jesus are looking to see. These are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22,23).
The things that God and Jesus hate to see are “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality … jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries … envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like that” (5:19-21). Paul’s warning about the second list is “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
There is no middle ground here! It is either a broad way, which the majority follow, or the narrow way. The ecclesia at Laodicea was condemned because it was neither one thing nor the other; it was “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16). So many are lukewarm today – the whole gospel that seems to be proclaimed is ‘love your neighbour as yourself and never do anyone any wrong’. That is good; it is a vital part of the foundation we set in place in accepting Christ, but that foundation has to be built on.
There is real true joy and peace when we join together to follow the narrow way in contrast to the “emptiness” of humanity today – for the narrow way – and the truth of God’s word with which that way is ‘paved’ (such as knowing the real nature of life after death in God’s kingdom) is what our Saviour looks to see in us and loves those who walk along that way. Are you walking so that he loves you?