Summary: But church can also be messy and we have to learn how to relate to our fellow family members with love and grace.
Dance Lessons: Bearing Burdens
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
[Slide] Sitting on a Pillar
Simeon the Stylite was a Syrian that was born around 390 AD, and died on September 2, 459 AD. Simeon lived near the city of Aleppo.
At 16 years old, he entered the monastery and wanted to make sure that he went to heaven so he punished his body terribly, starving himself and beating his back bloody.
That wasn’t enough and he decided he had to separate himself from sin and consecrate himself to God. So he built a pillar about six feet high and sat on it for the next six years.
So people came to visit him and seek wisdom, or see if he was crazy, that he decided to build a new pillar 60 feet high and three feet in diameter, with a cross bar to keep him falling off in his sleep. He sat on that pillar for the next 30 years till his death.
I guess you could say he was a pillar of his community. [Dad joke]
I guess that’s one way to avoid dealing with other people but most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting on a pillar away from others our whole lives!
Created for Community
Did you feel the buzz when you walked in here today? This is the first time we’ve meet together since March 8! For 14 weeks, we’ve been a virtual community, watching the sermons and sharing them with others.
While that was necessary in this pandemic, we all knew something was missing. Church isn’t something you go to, it’s a way of life. More than that, it’s a family. That’s why we have been missing it so much. We were created for community!
R. Kent Hughes writes:
“Church is a family where we, as Christians, find our identity and security, receive nurture and nourishment, get encouragement and support, benefit from teaching and training, modeling and mentoring, discipline and discipleship.”
But church can also be messy and we have to learn how to relate to our fellow family members with love and grace.
Because most of us don’t have a 60 foot pillar to sit on to avoid others, Paul is going to give the Galatians, and us, directions on how we are relate to each other in a way that is soul sustaining.
Last week, we studied the last verses of chapter 5, in which Paul wrote:
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:24-26)
He encouraged the Galatian Christians to be led by or to walk in or keep in step with the Holy Spirit.
As we allow the Spirit to grow in us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control, our relationships with our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, people that are different from us, people that disagree with us, and people that don’t look like us, will be living laboratories for the love of God to be expressed in practical ways.
Paul will give us two examples, one negative and one positive, of how this plays out in community. Last week, we considered the first negative example in verse 26.
This is the opposite of walking in the Spirit.
The word conceited is an interesting term. It literally means “to boast where it's is nothing to boast about.” Older translations use the phrase “vain glory.” It’s the idea of empty pride.
I heard a story about Muhammad Ali. The flight attendant asked him to buckle his seat belt and he replied, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.”
To which the flight attendant responded without missing a beat, “Superman don’t need no airplane! Buckle your seat belt please!” Which the champion quietly did.
This was the attitude of the Judaizers. Remember that they were racists. They considered themselves better than the Gentiles because they were Jews.
Paul writes that this conceit was playing out in two different ways - “provoking and envying each other.”
Provoking is a term that means to challenge someone. It can be used for athletic competitions that compare speed or strength. This is about superiority, showing who was better.
Envying, which was one of the “deeds of the flesh,” is more about inferiority. When we feel insecure about our gifts and talents, we can envy others.
We need to be confident in our position in Christ. We are loved and accepted because of Jesus. We don’t have to puff ourselves but can view ourselves with objectivity:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Rom 12:3)