Every week at our church, whoever preaches the message on Sunday, the preaching pastor writes up a follow up devotional for further study and reflection. Here is my last sermon and following devotional. Enjoy!
ENCOUNTER: Galatians 5:6
I am not how this became important, but there is something in our core being that needs to compare ourselves to others. We know we are doing a good job by being better than others, by being further down the road than others. And we find peace when our tribe affirms us, our convictions and our lifestyles.
We do this in regards to politics, to health, to education, and especially to religion.
Christians have not been immune to this sort of judgementalism and self-righteousness. Strange since the core of Jesus' teaching is selflessness, humility, and love. Do not judge, lest you be judged. But we just can't help it!
But, if we are going to truly live into the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us, then we have to let others be free along their journey as well. It is this tension that is the core of the Christian community. It is this tension that is startling to the world and affirms our faith to those around us. They will know we are Christians by the way we love one another.
We know all this to be true in our heads, but we must do the hard work to embrace it in our hearts and then be able to fully embrace others along this journey of faith. And Paul, in this passage of scripture maps out the plan:
Circumcision or non-circumcision has no value! What an incredible statement. (For another blog post) THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS: Faith, expressing itself in love.
Faith: The continual pursuit of Jesus. We say moving towards Christ. Jesus invites us to pick up our cross daily and follow him. Every day, we embrace the new mercies of God and intentionally move towards Jesus. Longing to submit more and more of lives to him and leverage our unique gifts and blessings for the expansion of the Kingdom of God!
Love: The way our faith gets expressed must be through love. Through the generous and patient love that Jesus modeled for us. The way a parent lovingly cares for their child or big sister lovers her baby brother. There are grace and mercy, joy and celebration and those we care for grow and mature. Our sisters and brothers in Christ are also on a journey, and our posture towards them must be generous and full of love.
But to do this we must die to our own self-righteousness and judgementalism. And when we do this, we can truly be free! Truly be free to move towards Jesus and be free to love those on the journey along with us. May we let our cultural versions of circumcision die, and lean headlong into this imperative: THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS IS FAITH EXPRESSING ITSELF IN LOVE!
BE REFLECTIVE: What are the markers of faith that are so important to you? What theological positions are of highest value to you? What rises up in you when other Christians don't share those same convictions or opinions? Why is it so hard to be generous towards them? This is the foundation work, don't look away too quickly.
BE A BLESSING: Who is a Christian who is firmly approaching their faith from a different starting point than you or has landed on some different understandings of life and faith? Would you consider having a coffee with them and listening to their story? Not to convince them but to be fellow travelers towards Christ that are expressing itself through love?
BE TOGETHER: Unless our faith is being worked out in the community and seasoned with plenty of love and grace, we are doing it wrong. Who are you going to work out your faith with to sharpen you, grind off your rough edges, or simply be an easy outlet for the expression of your faith, which is love? :)