Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fight or Blight?

Today is day 3, week 4, reading the Bible through together.  Our scriptures today are Genesis 45-46, Galatians 2, and Psalm 108.
Along with Ephesians 6:12, Galatians 2:20 has long been a "life verse" for me.  "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  This is a verse that I pray as a Logos Prayer.  When I feel tempted by sin, I pray this prayer, asking God to remind me that because I am dead to sin, sin has no power over me.  It reminds me that the only life that I live is in Christ--rather than trying to find life through sin that brings death.  

This verse also speaks to me when I'm feeling attacked.  Psalm 118:6 (HCSB) says, "The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?"  Galatians 2:20 has the same affect, reminding me that because I'm already crucified with Christ, there's nothing that people who come against me can really do.  In ministry, you've got to expect to get crucified along with Christ--because there's always somebody who doesn't want you to upset their little kingdoms.  But how can they crucify someone who's already on the cross with Christ?

Galatians 2 is all about a time when Paul upset some little kingdoms in the Jerusalem church.  Fourteen years after his conversion, or eleven years after his first visit, Paul went to Jerusalem.  He had been working independent from the apostles, though the message he preached was the same.  The only difference was Paul's emphasis on gentile conversion.  But this openness to gentiles sparked much controversy in the church at Jerusalem.  Peter, James, and John accepted Paul nonetheless, understanding that God had simply called Paul to a different ministry emphasis.

But later, when Peter visited Paul at Antioch, Paul opposed Peter to his face.  The chief apostle, who had accepted gentiles into the fold himself (Acts 10), and who normally ate with gentiles and lived like a gentile, drew back from the gentiles when members of the Judaizing party were watching.  Paul couldn't just let that be--he had to confront Peter publicly because the matter was of too much import to let it go.  Just imagine these two giants in the church staring each other down, over a fellowship meal!  

If you've attended any church for very long, then unfortunately you don't have to imagine it.  Our churches today are not exempt from their squabbles...and usually they're over little kingdoms.  One group within the church wants to appeal to outsiders, while another group wants to keep the outsiders out--or at least minimize their influence.  After all, we were here first!  Or, there may be other wars that your church is waging right now.  You name it, and God's people will fight over it!

Which is why Galatians 2:20 is so important to me.  It reminds me not to get embroiled in battles at church.  How can a crucified man fight, anyway?  If I'm crucified with Christ, then my position as willing victim of scorn, shame, and abuse leaves no place for fighting anymore.  This is the position that the true Christian must put themselves in--a crucified posture rather than a fighting position.

So, what kind of Christian are you?  Someone who's willing to fight, or someone who suffers the blight of a Jesus-follower?

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