Those who know me, know that I am not a great fan of the Apostle Paul. The canonization of his letters has resulted in folks treating his words as though they were “gospel”( at least as it suits them). I see him as an Evangelist, and quite flawed human being. He was quite spiritual, so some of his teachings have value, but, just because he wrote something does not mean that is the view a person should have regarding anything within the church. He was extremely human!
That being said, I would like to look at one of his teachings that holds a beauty for me and for all who read it. He wrote; “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, teachability and self-control.” There are many teachings on the web regarding this passage, but it still seems to get ignored by those who would have you take a more aggressive perspective of your faith. Yet, it is here, in this passage, that Paul seems to have utterly been in obedience to the Holy Spirit whose work can be seen the world over.
This passage would fit well in a Buddhist monastery, in an Ashram, in a shul, anywhere one is taught to honor the Highest and Best. It is simply stated, yet encompasses all the “virtues” needed to show that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. It is when I see this “fruit” growing in any life, no matter what faith, that I know I am interacting with one truly walking the Path set out by my teacher, Y’shua. It is true, he was not the only one to teach this path, nor was he the first, but it is through him that I learned of the path, so I honor him as my Master Teacher.
Getting back to Paul for a minute, much of what he taught was for that time only, and not of the timeless nature of Y’shua’s teachings.It is in that vein that I see Paul’s words on homosexuality, on the submission of women to men, and on the manner of dress a person should follow. You do not see these things addressed in Y’shua’s teachings, he was mindful that centuries beyond his earthly walk, there would be those seeking a path to holy living, therefore keeping his teachings succinct and to the point of addressing the work of the Holy Spirit throughout time. Paul’s words sometimes held that sense of timelessness, as with this passage, yet, he spoke also of the needs in that time of the churches he founded, very anchored in that time and space, and therefore, simply a reference to us 2,000 years hence: good to study, but not a guide for living.
It is in my studies of other faiths that I realized the difference between the timeless teachings, good for all of us on the Path, and the timely teachings, good only for the time in which they were written. It is here, rather than in any “Sunday school” or church that I began to see the extreme value of Y’shua’s teachings on Love. And to belabor a point, he was not teaching about romantic love, but about the deep, from the very depths of your being caring for the plight of others you would meet on the journey. We are to be compassionate toward all souls, not just those who happen to agree with us, or share a moment of epiphany with us. We are here to learn how to truly love.