If you don’t like what you see in the fields, don’t blame the weather, change the seed

For the second week in a row our weekly Bible readings have not only been really challenging in terms of teaching, but also incredibly timely in terms of what we need to hear now… and I’ve tried really hard not to simply read into the passages things that are coming from my own mood and thinking, but to let their content and the themes speak to me… You may wonder what I’m talking about, but if you look at Galatians chapter 6 verses 7-16 you can draw your own conclusions.

Below is what I shared in 2 of our services yesterday, while you can here Dave’s talk on doubt and taking chances here

do not be overcome

If you’ve not come across the safety pin campaign to show solidarity with and support for non-British nationals, then please look it out and join in- just a safety pin. If you feel that the whole thing of racial abuse in the UK is being blown out of proportion have a look at various online media- Independent, BBC or in the international press- a 500% increase in reported racial hate crimes in a week… even if its just a crazy week and people are calming down, we should not tolerate this behaviour- the question is how best to respond…

Anyway, here’s the text of what I said:

This passage comes at the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches, and it forms a conclusion of sorts- Paul does this in a number of other letters, and we see the same pattern in old and new Testament writing. Unusually, because this letter is written to a group of churches across the region of Galatia rather than to a church, there are no personal greetings- or personal warnings, and so Paul keeps teaching and refining his thoughts right to the end of the letter. If you remember the original problem that Paul was confronted by was that a group of Jewish Christians had come to the fledgling churches of the gentiles in Galatia and were giving them instructions in addition to those that Paul had left them- that they must follow the law of Moses including circumcision. If you’ve been reading the passages in between you’ll have seen just how ballistic Paul went, but at the conclusion of the letter his frustration and passion have been spent, and he comes to the conclusion of the matter.

The outward things are not the most important things- so do not become like those who give their all to follow the law, because they forget what is most important. BUT- do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked… if your heart is given to God, then your life will show this, but if not, then your life will reveal what is within you- you will reap what you sow.

There are some really obvious truths that we can draw out of that simple statement- That a seed falls and appears to die, before growing into something far greater than itself, which will in turn produce more seeds… that many seeds look similar, but grow into vastly different plants- some of which we value, while others are weeds, toxic or pests… that its important to recognise where there is something growing that is not healthy and remove it (though bearing in mind Jesus’ teaching about the weeds and the crop growing together- do not pull up the one if it will damage the other)…

But the point is simple, and it refers back to things we’ve been considering throughout- what direction are we going in? what fruit are we seeing? What seeds are we sowing? In our own lives and the life of our community.

 

The sinful nature- with its acts, its insistence on self will reap destruction

The Spirit’s nature- with its fruit, its humility will reap eternal life

Neither one of these is human nature- human nature is to have the choice between them.

 

If we wish to live by the Spirit of God, as new creations, recognising God as Father and knowing ourselves as Sons, living by grace instead of law… then we need to sow to please the Spirit of God, and we will see the fruits of God’s Spirit growing in us. Those fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… those are the things we want to see growing-  these things take time- it is one of the unfortunate truths of life that worthwhile things (be they skills, food, artistic expressions etc) usually take longer- we need to recognise that, and to pace ourselves, to encourage those around us, to grow in endurance and perseverance… this is one of the things that church community does- we invite one another into worship, we support one another in difficulty, and we encourage one another in perseverance. So do not grow weary of doing good…

 

In our current situation here in North Devon we want to show that. In our own lives we want to show that. And more and more at this moment in the life of our nation we need to show that. The maelstrom of our politics where close allies become opponents, the campaign promises that are proving to be untrue, the deep-seated racism that has been revealed in our country and seemingly legitimised… all those things were there before the referendum, but seem to be writ large at this time… they have all grown out of seeds…

A switching of loyalties out of necessity becomes a changing of views out of expedience becomes a lack of integrity all too easily…

A manifesto pledge that you can’t keep one year becomes a pledge you don’t intend to keep becomes a pledge you know is impossible to keep…

A silly joke to a friend becomes a habitual way of thinking becomes racist behaviour…

 

If we look at the behaviour of Herod in our Gospel passage- he began with selfishness and greed- lusting after and taking the wife of his brother, he becomes unable to do what is right, and for fear of being embarrassed in front of his guests has John executed…

 

But we can all become a new creation through the cross of Christ, whatever we have been…

 

Taking small steps towards that- if all Christians are a new creation in Christ, and anyone who lives by that faith- who accepts Christ can also become one with them. And all Christians are Sons of God… and there is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave no free, male nor female- we are all one in Christ… all people are equal in God’s eyes… so there is no place for racism within the heart of a Christian… but equally there is no place for hatred of racists… we are called to love our enemies, to overcome evil with good, to bind up the broken hearted- whether their hearts are broken by fear of the unknown or by acts of oppression…

 

Safety pins- a small thing… a necessary thing even here…

 

 

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