I just want to talk today about something that blows my mind every time I read it. First, a little backdrop to give some perspective.
Growing up my family did not attend church regularly. My mom would take us on occasion because she really felt that we should go. It still happened only on rare occasions. We would go thru spurts of attending for a few weeks and then not for a month or 2. We were however raised to believe. My dad was a man who had such a strong faith, but I never once saw him step foot through church doors unless there was a wedding or special event. He dove in to the word daily though. Multiple times a day. I felt like every moment of down time he had was spent in the word. His actions set a great example for me. He talked to me regularly about what he was reading. He encouraged me to dig in to scripture myself. Never told me I had to do specific things for God to love me. He facilitated growth by meeting me at the spiritual level I was at instead of expecting me to come up to his level. It wasn’t until he passed away when I was 13 that I started attending church regularly.
I turned 14 about seven months after my dad passed. We moved from Key West to Southern Illinois. Southern Illinois is “Bible Belt” territory. My uncle pastored a church and I started to attend regularly. It was shortly after that I really came to know Christ myself. I attended only one church through out my high school years. That church taught me that there were so many things wrong in the world. I don’t mean that in a good way either. It seemed like there was nothing in the world that we, as Christians, were “allowed” to do. I felt like I was constantly screwing up because I was constantly trying to live by this set of rules that I was told I needed to follow. I was led to believe that for me to be “right with God” I had to follow these rules, or I wasn’t a true Christian. I honestly didn’t know any better at the time. That is all I had knows in my Christian life. I am not saying that this was a bad church. I don’t mean to make them sound like they were controlling. This is not the church from Footloose. I was just young and new in my faith and most likely heard them wrong.
Here I am now, 20 years later. I am so glad that Christ starts a work in us that lasts a life time. I have had so many ups and downs. So many wrestling matches with God. Should I do this? Should I say that? Should I act like this? Why can’t I seem to do what I am “supposed” to do? But, this last year has reignited a fire and desire for Christ! It is a fire that I had thought went out years prior because I had given up trying to “get right” by doing the “right things.” Here is one of the passages that has reignited that fire:
5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(I encourage everyone to read all of Galatians 5)
Boom! Mind blown! That passage is so freeing!!! The rules I attempted to follow counted for nothing because it is through the Spirit, by faith, that I have the hope to be righteous! And, there are no laws against the fruits of the Spirit! You see friends, we have no need to struggle to uphold a set of rules that is laid out. We only need to trust in our faith and let the Spirit lead us. It is through the Spirit, by faith, that we can uphold the standards that GOD has for us. It is only by the work of Christ that we can live in those standards! How powerful is that?! I have read that scripture so many times though out my life and it never clicked. I was just reading it because someone said I had to in the past. Now, I read it because the Spirit gives me the desire and excitement to get in to the word.
Father, may we all through the Spirit, by faith, come to know you more, come to be a walking testament of the fruits of the Spirit, and come to know what true freedom feels like. Amen!