Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Galatians 6:17-18

17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

I find it interesting that Paul refers to the marks on his body, calling them the marks of Jesus. This, after he rebukes those in Galatia who thought the bodily mark of circumcision should be held in such high regard. But this is different on so many levels. Circumcision was a ritual mark that was for all men. Paul's marks were unique to him, a result of his calling.

When he calls them "the marks of Jesus," it is almost as though he was given those marks by Jesus Himself. While at first this sounds crazy, remember that the apostles also rejoiced for being counted as worthy to receive the beatings they were given as they left the ruling Jewish body. (Acts 5:40-42)

Paul closes by wishing them the grace of Jesus. It is grace that binds us, and Paul knew this. It is grace that changes us, and Paul knew that. It is grace that saves us, and Paul knew that too.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It just doesn't make sense.

Galatians 6:11-16

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

So does Paul's life make sense to anyone, if in fact he had not been convicted of the truth of the Gospel?

Does it make sense for Paul to give up his future, his prestige, his lineage, his role as a fast moving higher up in order to be beaten, face death, etc. if something (like the Holy Spirit) had not gripped and shaken his beliefs to the core? Would anyone give up what he had for what he got in return? Outside of the eternal realm of his reward, I can't see it.

Does it even make sense for Paul to have taken such a position at all? Wouldn't he have naturally been one of those who would have joined in with the circumcision crowd, even if he were convinced by a Christian that Jesus was the Messiah?

Listen to Paul's words. Outside of the deep conviction from the Holy Spirit, how would he, how could he come to understand that outside of the cross of Jesus, nothing else counts?

And what about us? Where do we stand and where does it come from? Was it our own logic that led us to this place? Paul is not alone in the apparent insanity of his conclusions. Many have died, sacrificed, been martyred since then. Where is the logic to it all? Or does the Holy Spirit just need to grab us and reveal the truth to us?

Peace to all who walk by this rule, the rule that says that the cross of Christ is everything, and I am nothing. Peace, which can only come when we realize that we are not of this world, but are rather a new creation. Praise God for this. Amen!

Monday Music

What a song.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Does Paul believe in Karma?

Galatians 6:7-10

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Ever hear of Karma? That idea that "what goes around, comes around?" I have heard people use this verse to support such ideas. I emphatically do not think that is what this verse is saying.

What you sow you will reap, that is the promise here. So if you sow to please the flesh, you will reap corruption. That is because the flesh and the ways of the flesh are corrupt. Even if what you do is a good thing, if it is done to please the flesh, it will be corrupt. That is where this differs from karma. Karma says that your deeds will come back to you, good deeds will return in good things, and bad deeds will return in bad things. I would love to see the scientific research on this, but I digress.

But if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Not, if we do good, good will be done to us. Rather, if we sow our seeds to please the Spirit, rather than the flesh, then eternal life is what is in store for us. Not because we have done good things, but because we get it! Because our actions are guided by the Spirit of God rather than our own pleasure.

So do good then, not because you want to plant a seed that will be returned 1 fold or 10-fold (or whatever fold someone tells you) on earth (as some prosperity folks would believe and have you to believe), but do good because you desire to please the Spirit. It might not go well! But don't grow weary, don't tire of doing good and maybe not seeing that good returned to you. Just do good because it pleases God. And do good to all, but especially to your brothers in the faith.

God judges that heart, not the deeds. Karma has no such discretion.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hug a teacher

Galatians 6:6

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 

Encouragement, that is what I see in verse 6. I work in education. Currently I process data and do other such work. But occasionally I get the opportunity to get back into the classroom. Like this week, where a couple of teachers asked me to come in and share a math lesson with their students. After 30 minutes or so, having the teacher thank-you or the students smile and share something new they took out of that time puts a smile on my face.

Christianity is not easy. At least not if it is done right. Joyful, yes, but not easy. Turning the other cheek carrying our cross can be wearisome, and I think even Jesus would agree. But those victories along the way, like having someone who is taught share with the teacher, "Yes, here is how what you have said to me makes a difference!" can be very powerful. Teachers don't always get to see the fruits of their labors.

Who has taught you? How can you share to brighten their day?