Galatians 5:26-6:5 & The Chronicles of M & M and Superman

You may remember a few stories (such as the ultimate poo story) about my friends from seminary Matt and Mark. These twin brothers are the extravagant rock star type personality. This means lots or personality, lots of drama. So one day we are outside the church after services with a mixed crowd. We are all making fun of one another and I think someone made a rude comment toward me that Matt found hysterical. So to add some drama he fell on his back laughing. His pants ripped approximately four inches in the act. Now a good friend would politely hint to avoid, or cushion further embarrassment. I am not a good friend. I blurted it out loudly so that all laughs would turn from me, to Matt.

Paul’s advice in this text is really hard for me to live out. How does it work?

I watched Superman Returns last night. I was let down. Superman committed fornication. How do I confront him about this? Do I just ignore the issue, this is my default mode? Privately I will tell myself how much better I am than him. I may ignore or talk to him less. This fails in two ways: 1) it makes sin to be a small ignorable matter; 2) it cranks up the pride dial on my sinful heart. Hey, this is Superman, if he could fall to temptation, so could I. I should gently seek to restore him. I think that the more I ignore this sin in others while culturing sin in my own heart, the more susceptible I will be to the very same sin, or at least sin in general. Ironically I fail to see the granddaddy of all sin, the thread that runs through all acts of iniquity, pride, is consuming my life.

“Hey ‘Supe’…I look up to you, I consider you so much better than myself in so many ways. You genuinely love and sacrifice for others. But you have really messed up. But Christ is greater that all your sin. And He is at work to make all things work out for good. You need to marry this woman. Buck up and be a dad. Tell Lois the truth. This would be true superhero conduct.”

The gospel is why these actions must be taken. We make light of the gospel when we fail to seek our brother’s restoration.

Galatians 5:16-25 & I Do but I Don’t

Things you want to do, but don’t want to do:

  1. Eat a donut or five
  2. Go to the dentist when you have a toothache
  3. Restroom stop when driving the church van to camp
  4. Read your Bible
  5. Homework
  6. Apologize
  7. Do laundry
  8. You add to the list…

All Homo sapiens have conflicting desires at times. We battle with what will make us happier at times; to finish the homework, or put it off? Often in seeking happiness we only prolong our misery. We are foolish creatures. For Christians this does not cease, rather it intensifies. We do not simply deal with a moral conscience, but we have two natures. One wars against the other. Both are promising happiness.

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves. – Blaise Pascal

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. – John Piper

Galatians 5:1-12 & My Car

So there is this splendid couple that was kind enough to give me a car! Outside of making fun of my son they truly are splendid people (really, he is not even out of the womb to defend himself yet; I would teach him to spit up on you, but that would only serve your rude prediction concerning his character). So the car is great, except that having to walk around to the passenger side to unlock the driver’s side door, then walking back to the driver’s side to get into my car can get a bit old. So Saturday I commenced ripping off the door panel to locate the problem. There is a little white plastic thing-a-ma-jig about the size of my pinkie, on which a little hook-like piece smaller than a fly is the only part broken. The thing-a-ma-jig would perform perfectly fine if not for this small part which only makes up 1/100 of its wholeness. I tell myself I will look at a junk yard or something…we shall see.

So you have two doors.

1 = law (passenger side)

2 = Jesus (drivers side)

Like my car door number one only serves to make you realize your need of door number 2. Door number 1 cannot get you into the driver’s seat to enjoy driving freedom. Door number one only allows you to be a passenger, a slave to various drivers known as:

The curse of the law.

The lust of the flesh.

Sin.

And

Satan.

All are reckless drivers and will destroy your soul – intense wreckage!

So after a few thousand ‘accidents’ you realize these guys can’t drive. Only faith in CHRIST can open the door with the broke thing-a-ma-jig. You experience driving freedom.

But sometimes you get lazy, you just want to sit and let someone else take the wheel; someone like self righteousness, the law, or pride. When you use door number one, door number two is no advantage to you. To ‘fall away from grace’ (v. 4) is not to lose your salvation, but your driving freedom. You can live by the law, or under the stream of grace, but you cannot do both at the same time.

I go to door number one daily, both spiritually and with my car. With my car one continually makes me realize and sends me to door number two. Spiritually this is not always so, but how I wish it was.

One is utterly insufficient.

Two is a flowing fountain of cruising freedom. A road of grace.

Galatians 4:12-20 & Become as I, for I as You

The morning was crisp and cool. I leashed up Fro and Sam. They were insanely excited at the prospect of a walk in cool weather. I placed the iconic white ear buds in my ears and commenced listening to James Harleman talk about Christianity and culture. He talked about how he loved watching movies after his conversion and seeing the gospel in them. He spoke to another pastor about the matrix and all the gospel implications involved and the other pastor said “What? I just watched it as entertainment, for a distraction?”

So we go to movies, and entertainment for our Sabbath?

Harleman then attacks the idea of entertainment ever being “safe”. Culture is never safe. We are never safe in this world. He then clarifies that he does not condemn Christians watching a movie just for entertainment, but we should pray and hope that all of life, including entertainment becomes a godly engagement.

For example I watched Gladiator again this weekend. Now I often approach movies looking for illustrations, conversations starters, etc. but I had grown lax. Also I often looked at snippets rather than the whole picture. For example I have used Maximus’ line “what we do in life echoes in eternity” numerous times. But notice the contrast between the rightful heir Maximus, and the rejected heir Commodus. Maximus is humble, brave, sacrificial, serving, and seeks to honor Marcus and the people of Rome by returning rule to the senate. Commodus is selfish, prideful, and makes much of the people only so that the people will make much or him. Maximus overcomes the tyranny of Commodus and opens the eyes of Rome not as a conquering general, but as a lowly gladiator. In his weakness he overthrows the highest ruler in the world. Sound familiar?

Let me wrap this up. Three options when dealing with culture:

1) Be a sectarian. Completely pull apart from culture and create a Christian bubble. Never let anyone in this bubble that might pollute it and never go outside the bubble where you might be infected. After all it is truly not safe outside of the bubble.

2) Be a syncretist. become a “mutual admiration society in which people pat each other on the back for having a social conscience and nod in agreement through sermons that sound like sappy greeting cards strung together to make us feel like we just got a divine back rub while doing some aromatherapy, drinking herbal tea, and listening to taped sounds of running water (Mark Driscoll in the Radical Reformission).”

3) Receive from culture what is good. Reject what is unbiblical. And redeem what has been marred. We are not anti-cultural. We are pro Jesus, and Jesus came to buy a people from every tribe tongue, and nation. Heaven will be multicultural.

With renewed eyes look at the culture all around you, and engage it with Christ. Use music, movies, television, and fads as a means to evangelize your peers.

Galatians 4:1-7 & Season Premier

08:59:58…boop

08:59:59…boop

09:00:00…boop

So TV season is starting back up. Survivor on the 20th, heroes on the 24th, house on the 25th, lost on the ???, and 24… next year! The suspense is dreadful. But that is what 24 is about, suspense, it’s the reason why you hate and love the show.

Commercial: I stole much of this from a lecture by Mark Driscoll on scripture. You can check the lecture either on iTunes (Mars Hill Church sermon podcast) or at the Mars Hill website. If I say something profound or cool, chances are I stole it. I am highly unoriginal.

Malachi does this (the last book of the bible, and the last book of the Old Testament written). It talks about the messenger coming to prepare a way for the Messiah. Then…

boop…

boop…

boop…

For four hundred years. And then the fullness of time came (Galatians 4:4). God the master story teller slowly revealed his plan over thousands of years, leaves his people with the ultimate cliffhanger for 400 years and then – the climax – Jesus in humble splendor, servant glory, and lowly power.

And now we live in suspense waiting for the finale. You must understand the climax to get the finale.

boop…

boop…

boop…

Galatians 3:15-29 & The Gaurdian

Last week I found this cool bit about Jason Bourne and the gospel.

This weekend Bethany and I watched The Guardian (the coast guards version of Top Gun). Good movie. Certainly better than I thought it would be. It begins and ends with these words:

There is a legend of a man who lives beneath the sea. He’s a fisher of men. A last hope of all those who have been left behind. He is known as the Guardian.

I knew early on that Costner was going to die. I did not tell Bethany this because she would instantly hate the movie. However she was the first one to connect the opening lines with his death. Costner is the legendary guardian that will not let go until help comes.

Galatians 3:24 says:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

The guardian (Costner) did not save the drowning victims. Rather he was there until salvation came. The law never saves. Unlike Costner though it drowns us, shows us our sin, makes us to cry out to God for a righteousness not our own.

Some translations translate this word schoolmaster or tutor. The idea being that the law taught us our need for Christ. But the guardian was normally a slave who was to discipline the children and keep them from moral evils. They were entrusted to this guardian from about 6 to puberty. The guardian was to make sure they got to school and helped with their schoolwork and manners. The guardian is temporary. The guardian takes us to the teacher, it is not the teacher. The guardian is good, but it does not make us good, rather its goodness shows us our badness.

We must be wounded with the law before the gospel can heal. We must realize we are drowning before we cry out. The drowning and sorrow of the law is a blessed sorrow if it leads to repentance and faith.

Galatians 3:10-14 & Cursed

What’s your curse?

I have this hex on me, that every time a waiter comes by the table to ask me something I have taken a massive bite of food that seems to take five minutes to chew while they impatiently stare at me. It is impossible to enjoy food while being the subject of someone’s gaze.

I also have this curse of forgetting everything. Like forgetting a pot of boiling water. I have recently twice forgotten about leaving the watering hose for about four hours. This has recently become more annoying since we have stairs. I ask myself “why did I come up here?” only to remember after having given up and journeyed back downstairs.

So what is your curse? Body odor? Stinky feet? Hairy toes? Public flatulence? Protruding nasal hair? The curse of the black pearl? Zits on picture days? Always forgetting to pack a toothbrush and secretly borrowing one?

What is the true nature of a curse? What does it mean that Christ became a curse? Why did He have to become a curse?

Isn’t it funny that we think we are accursed when we get a flat, a zit, a ‘d’, an insufficient funds notice, etc? Jesus shows us the true nature of a curse. What he suffered is the curse we all deserve. I’ve recently noticed how little the gospels speak of Christ’s physical sufferings. All of the gospels spend the majority of their time recording this event, but little detail is given regarding HIS physical suffering. There is much more that reveals the agony of His soul as He drank from the bitter cup of His Father’s wrath.

So bring on the waiters, the zits, and the flats I am blessed. My sins have been atoned for. The Father has been propitiated. Christ became my curse so that I may approach the throne in boldness.

Rejoice in this… but still I am absolutely curious,

What is your “curse”?

Galatians 3:7-9 & The Kind My Daddy Likes

Perhaps I was six, I can’t remember.

I was staying with my aunt Brenda. Like most human children I was inclined to rapidly burn calories and soon require nourishment. Upon questioning me regarding my need to consume sustenance they discovered that I liked pizza.

“Do you know what kind of pizza you like?”

“Yes!”

And so we ventured to the hut of pizza.

A menu was then set before me, beverages were served, the order was soon to be taken:

“So what kind of pizza do you like?”

“The kind my daddy eats!”

“What kind is that?”

“I don’t know.”

And so began a series of pointing to pictures and explaining various toppings. I then discovered that it was hamburger pizza which I and my daddy enjoyed (I have since come to find that pepperoni is far superior to all varieties of pizza).

The Judaiziers were all about being “Jewy”. They didn’t want to part with the law and be like gentile sinners (2:15, 17). But in trying to be so “Jewy” they became less so. Their daddy came to God simply on faith. The law came after and was an addendum to Abraham. Faith preceded law. This has always been the gospel.

Ours is a vintage faith. The faith of our fathers. It is an old faith. It has not changed. It’s what our Father likes. And we like it too.

I left hamburger to discover other pizzas. They were much more delicious. I have found nothing sweeter than this ancient faith. New is not always better.

Galatians 3:1-6 & Stupid

I have been bewitched several times, this is one:

I was bewitched that if I was a cowboy I would be cool. So I bought wranglers, a big belt with a big buckle, and a hat. It was painful to wear these items. This is not meant to be offensive to wrangler wearers or cowboys, only to say that I find this attire equally as painful as a suit and tie. I was duped.

I’m listening to this great British guy named John R.W. Stott on my iPod right now. He wrote a book about the cross that I am mad I went through seminary without someone telling me “you must read this book before you graduate and we will make you wear a cowboy hat until you do”. Anyway, back to my listening. I downloaded a few of his sermons on the cross (you can do so here for free after registering). I love Stott because the cross is central, essential to everything for him.

I have never left the theology in this text as a cherished doctrine. I leave it as a lifestyle. I leave it as a love. I leave it as my focus. I think of it too little. I try to commune with God based on other means. I forget the depth of love and holiness shown there. I am stupid. If ever there was a time to identify one as stupid it is when a Christian forgets the centrality of the cross.

The amplified bible says it like this:

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians!

Or JB Phillips put it this way:

O you dear idiots of Galatia

We must fight against being duped. May our eyes constantly be fixed upon Christ and Him crucified.

Galatians 2:15-21 & Air

Justification by faith…

How many times a week do you reflect on that phrase?

Rarely? What has so happened to evangelical Christianity that we scarcely reflect, understand, and love this doctrine? Martin Luther said:

If the article of justification be once lost, then all true Christian doctrine is lost.

Do we treat this doctrine like that? Or has it become as light as air to us. I rarely appreciate breathing. Usually it takes a punch in the gut, choking, or being held underwater for me to think, “You know this whole air thing is pretty great, I sure would love to put some of that in my lungs right now.” Have we taken this whole thing for granted? Are we acting as if this air is something that should always be there for us? “He gave us lungs; He ought to give us air.”

How can a generation be awakened to see the preciousness of this truth like Luther did?

I think we need to realize that because of sin we are not on the surface, we are underwater. Air is precious. We are:

swimming,

drowning,

sinking in sin.

We live in this water of sin. There is no surface. We need air or we die. Justification is this air, and it comes completely by grace and faith. We have been given an air hose in promise that upon death we will surface never to swim in this liquid sin again.

To see the beauty of this gift we must see the depths of our sin.

We must remember we need this work of Christ like we need air, continually.

Today I urge you:

Breathe!