Poatina morning tea devotion given yesterday
Today I’m starting a series of devotions on Galatians 5 & 6.
I’ve been enjoying a series of podcasts called “The God Journey”. Rosa put me onto it year or so ago. In some ways they are a reaction to religion. A lot of us grew up in churches where there was a set of rules about what you were meant to do and not do.
There is paradox at heart of faith, the more you try to do what you think being Christian is meant to be, the more you get away from it. The more you are introspective and work it out, the more you get away from it.
The truth is, Paul says we’re saved by grave, but he also says faith without works is dead. It’s a problem that we like to think that A plus B equals C.
It’s great that our training came from mistakes. From people who wanted to live for Jesus and fell on their faces. The danger is I can end up trusting our training and not trusting Jesus. Don’t hear me saying it’s wrong to trust our training. One of our most precious things in Fusion is our first principle, that everything we do comes under our leader, Jesus. Fusion never lost its leader – sometimes we choose not to listen to Him.
I’m on a personal journey. Right now reading Steve Job’s Biography. It’s fascinating watching this bloke who, at the age of 13 got disillusioned with Christianity. He was deeply affected by an article on Biafra (In Nigeria where there was appalling famine) in Time Magazine. He took the magazine to his minister and said, “Does God care about this? Why does God allow this to happen?”
He said if only Christians could stop talking about faith and start talking about Jesus it’d be a different thing. It has been a theme for me in past couple of years that some people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus. Mother Teresa said that.
She also says, holiness consists of doing God’s will joyfully. I find that challenging.
“Holiness consists in doing God’s will joyfully. Faithfulness makes saints. The spiritual life is a union with Jesus: the divine and the human giving themselves to each other. The only thing Jesus asks of us is to give ourselves to [God], in total poverty and total self-forgetfulness.”
When things don’t go the way you want them to go it is painful and that pain can set the agenda.
I’m using the Message version for Galatians 5:1-4
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Its like Paul is saying “You idiots, just trying to live by the rules. Didn’t I teach you better than that. Christ has set us free to live a free life…the moment any one of you submits to circumcision …having to do something or be something to be ok, you’re back in slavery and Christ’s hard won gift…
When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects you fall out of grace. What matters is something far more interior. Faith, expressed in love.”
Our norms book in Poatina is really important it’s what makes the village work. The danger is we become norms Nazis and we start to focus on the law. Our community’s in a challenging place, we’re coming thru it but we’ve got a way to go and tough stuff to face. At some point we’re going to have to face some things. But the danger is I start thinking about what you should be doing.
Paul says the only way to live free is by faith expressed in love. I think we’re coming to some pretty serious challenges in our community in terms of how we relate to one another and our culture, but the danger for me in that is when I think I know the truth. Whenever I think I know the truth, I end up thinking I have the answers. The only way for that sign “The way life was meant to be” to be halfway true is for us to get to the point where we can trust Jesus enough to let the mess be there and to do our best because of Him.
As I read Gal 5 and 6 the other day I thought, “I think I need to hear some of this”. God has set us up for a free life and the danger is we put ourselves back into slavery. A place where everybody’s free to continually make the choice to love and to have faith.