Friday, March 15, 2013

what does God want from me?

Late one night, after I finished the Disney countdown chain, I read through Galatians. I love Paul's letters to the churches in the New Testament for their straight-shooting, understandable language.
Do you believe the Bible is true?
I do.

The Galatians are having trouble with the concepts of freedom and grace. They can't shake the righteousness they linked with religious practices before Jesus Christ died to free them and salvation came by grace. Grace for free? 
Salvation by grace through faith makes practices like going to church & giving money, and any other good things done with good intentions merely that: good.

So, what is it that God wants from me in return for this free gift of grace?

Here's what Paul says that struck me & has me going back to read again all week. (I've "..." between some of it for the sake of brevity.) Galatians 5, beginning at 4. (The Message version)

"When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace...
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....
(v13-15) It is clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want and destroy your freedom...use this freedom to serve one another...For everything we know about God's word can be summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself...

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day... 

(19) It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;...paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on...
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people."
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