Monday, June 22, 2009

Galatians 5:16-18 (Lose Control!)

People live with an illusion of control. They kid themselves into thinking they can guide their destinies. The fact is we are all riding a wave of history, time, circumstances and providence. Most people flounder in the wave chasing every desire and acting on a mixture of instinct and pleasure seeking. Even those who appear to be successfully navigating the wave crash and drown in the end.

To walk in the Spirit is to set our focus on God and surrender our “control” to His guidance; to let the wave take us where He wills. This does not translate into a “perfect” life in the world’s eyes. It is not a life free of pain and suffering, hard times and tough circumstances. True Christianity has never been about perfect health and prosperity, for example. (Some people think that God is so desperate for followers and happy to get them that He rewards them with a magically perfect life.)

Christian teaching often misses this point. People are told, “You need to walk in the Spirit! This is what you should do…” Instead, it is all about surrender; losing control. Perhaps for some it would be easier to think of as following. But the surrender of control is really what is meant here. Elsewhere Paul uses the analogy of drunkenness to explain a life in the Spirit.

Once again the problem is legalism. The fear in teaching someone to walk in the Spirit is that they will start to misbehave since they are not in control. It is far easier to teach someone behavior that is rule based rather than Spirit based. Rules are controllable, God is not.

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