Lynch Your Sin
The Galatians 5 list of spiritual fruit is so familiar; and so often so insipid. It is ironic that verses from a letter so unneutered that its author wishes his opponents would emasculate themselves should sound so bloodless to us. The fruits of the Spirit have gone the way of Noah’s Ark and David & Goliath – mere murals we paint on the walls of the kids rooms in our church buildings.
I’ve taught on Galatians 5 a few times recently and been struck with fresh force that the fruits of the Spirit cannot be obtained passively. These are not twee sentiments designed to help us be nice, moral, people. No, the fruits of the Spirit are obtained violently. We see this in the corollary verse: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Crucifixion – that’s violent!
The trouble with this is that crucifixion is both too familiar and too alien to us. It is overfamiliar in the ubiquity of images of the cross: in church buildings, in jewellery, in tattoos. These crosses do not excite the attention, much less shock or shame. And this is because the cross is so alien to us – we don’t feel the visceral revulsion at the idea of crucifixion that Paul’s first readers would have. We don’t feel the sense of scandal and shame around the cross. We don’t see or smell the shattered bodies. We don’t feel the fear.
At a meeting in the States recently I took the risk of substituting the word ‘crucified’ in this verse with lynched. It produced a reaction – a visible, physical response from those in the room. Lynching, at least in the US, carries something of the horror that crucifixion would have done in the first century. The word feels ugly. We want to turn away from it. It makes us feel afraid and ashamed. This is the horror we are meant to feel towards sin.
If we’re going to obtain the fruit of the Spirit we need to lynch our fleshly desires. Lynch your sin! How about painting that on the nursery walls?