Summary: To walk in the Spirit means to be active instead of passive and to allow the Spirit to lead.
A Way To Walk: Fundamentals
Gal 5:16-26, July 18, 2010
I’m going to begin with a little story I wrote, sort of a parable. Like most parables, it isn’t about what it seems to be about, the message is something different. I offer this uncharacteristic preamble because we are concerned about some marriage issues in our community, and I don’t want to come across as insensitive about those in any way. So while the parable appears to be about marriage, it is not; it is about something more important. I think it will be obvious…
Once upon a time, a young man fell in love with the girl of his dreams. They dated, she returned his affections, and they married. Around the same time, his friend met the girl of his dreams, and they also married. As happens in life, the paths of these two friends took them to different places, their friendship changed but they still kept in touch and continued their fondness for one another.
About 20 years passed, and the second friend called the first with an urgent need to talk. “I don’t understand it,” he said as he poured out his heart to his friend, “my marriage is just not vibrant. I feel distant, like sometimes she doesn’t hear me, she isn’t there for me when I need her, like she just doesn’t understand me. I sometimes wonder if she even loves me anymore.”
His friend listened with compassion, and then asked, “Do you feel like this everyday, or just sometimes? What is it like when you two interact on a daily basis?”
“Well,” came the reply, “we don’t talk on a daily basis, but I make sure I set aside an hour and fifteen minutes for her every week. Sunday morning, 10am, is her time. I almost never miss it, unless I am really tired from the night before, or unless I go away for the weekend. Every week, faithfully, I give up that 75 minutes to nurture our relationship. But sometimes she seems quiet then, sometimes I don’t even feel like she appreciates me being there, and I don’t always leave feeling uplifted and encouraged like I should. I feel like she isn’t keeping up her side of the agreement…” He paused and looked at his friend, and asked: “is it like that for you also?”
“Well, no, not really. See, I make time for my wife every day. We both get up each day with a desire to share our lives and our love, we look for ways to help each other, we go out of our way to do things that we know will bring each other joy. Like just this week, she knows how much joy I get out of serving, and an elderly neighbour down the street needed her eaves troughs cleaned out with all the rain, and even though I said I was tired after work she grabbed our ladder, walked it down to her house, and made me climb up and get the job done. She shared some tea and cookies and visited, while I got the gutters clean and the water shedding away from the basement. And I felt a thousand times more refreshed and re-energized than if I’d plopped in front of the TV and watched some dumb summer re-run. I’m sorry, my friend, I just can’t imagine a relationship in 75 minutes a week…”
Last Sunday I introduced a new sermon series on the fundamentals of our Christian faith by looking at Luke 9:23-24, where Jesus says: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” It is obvious that Jesus doesn’t say “if anyone wants to be my follower, you must give me 75 minutes on Sunday morning”, being a Christian is a way of living each day.
I wonder if anyone has a story from your life this past week of how you lived this out, or even how you tried to live this out. Some way you “took up your cross and followed”.
Also from last week, we created a list on some flip chart paper together about some of the fundamentals of being a Christian. I want to tell you that as I studied these, I was deeply encouraged. We “get” that our Christianity is a way of life, not a “Sunday morning” thing – our list was full of things that are not Sunday-morning centric, most of it was things we can’t even really do in any kind of fullness on Sunday morning like “walk in the Spirit”, “witness for God”, “shine”, “submit my will to God”, and “obey”. It was deeply encouraging that the emphasis in our responses was on how we live out of this relationship with God day by day. With that in mind, this morning I want us to think together about the first thing we wrote on the first chart in response to my first question last week about what it really means to be a Christian: “walk in the Spirit”.