Hello and welcome to Friday’s podcast. I hope that when and wherever you are… whether a quiet moment before the kids wake up, a bit of snatched time in amongst the busyness of the all of the activity and noise or as part of another day spent on your own… I hope that reflecting on the Bible together this week has brought you closer to God and been a launch pad for further prayer and thanksgiving.
Next week Helen picks up the baton and will take us through the next couple of chapters of Galatians. Be sure to tune in.
Today, as we begin this reflection I would like to ask you a question. It’s a favourite question of mine; it is far reaching and a real indicator of where we are in our walk with God.
Here we go…
“Who gets to tell you what to do?”
As a small child we may have followed instructions first time, without question, but as we grew a little bigger, we began to exert our will on those around us. Any parent of a 3 year old will know this too well and will be learning diplomatic skills that will come in handy if ever we encounter a terrorist!! I am only joking… but any parents, past or present, will know exactly what I mean!
As parents we very quickly learn that presenting a child with a choice… “do you want to wear the blue trousers today or the black ones?” rather than a straight instruction… “put on the blue trousers!” is more likely to see the child dressed and ready to go rather than having to endure another melt down. Note the words… “more likely,” there are no guarantees!
My point is that from a young age we all began to assert our independence and this is a good thing… as far as it goes.
But when we meet Jesus, when he rocks up in our lives with all of his love and grace and forgiveness… when we finally say “yes” and bow before him… we surrender… we submit… we swallow our pride, we recognise that we can’t do it – whatever ‘it’ is – we cannot do ‘it’ without him. We come under his authority, we give him permission to tell us what to do because we know… deep down in our hearts… that he knows best. He designed us, he knows us and he knows a little bit about how life works. So little by little we learn to trust. We learn to surrender and follow his instruction.
Today we continue to find ourselves in Paul’s defence of his ministry. Remember, after he met with Jesus on the road to Damascus he didn’t seek out the disciples, he took himself off alone and Jesus revealed to him the gospel message that Paul now lived and preached.
But who gets to tell Paul what to do?
To some extent Paul is as a lone ranger. Someone out on a limb, doing his own thing, a free radical, operating in his own authority… and potentially a problem for the sapling church… Let’s listen in to Galatians 2 verse 2…
…meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.
Paul seeks out leaders in the church and shares what God has been revealing to him. He is checking that he is on the right lines, heading in the right direction.
We all have direct access to God; we are all called to play our part in extending God’s kingdom in the world. And we know that wherever God’s kingdom is to be found there is ever increasing freedom for his followers.
“When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed,”
“where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom”
We get freed up from the sin that hold us back, our relationships, once full of fear and control, begin to be infected by his love and grace. The growing desire to serve those around us begins to affect our neighbours, friends and colleagues.
But Paul is wise enough to make himself accountable. His submits himself to those with authority to ensure he is on the right track.
Those he seeks out are full of wisdom, they affirm the call on Paul’s life and don’t try to control him, they are not threatened by his success, they only want to see the church grow, the kingdom expand and the freedom they have received flourish.
It is the same for us…
We are wise to seek out mature Christians, to open ourselves up and present our lives and our message to others to ensure that we are not running our races in vain. To check that the direction we are heading is not simply our miss placed desire masquerading as the word of God.
So, a question to reflect on as we finish… Where do you go for wise counsel? Or whose opinion do you seek out about decisions you are making? Who are you making yourself accountable to?
Father thank you that your kingdom brings freedom, as we surrender our lives to you, as we let you tell us what to do, we break off all the rubbish that has bound us and held us back. Help us to be wise, to seek good counsel and be open and accountable with those who only have our best interests, and kingdom growth at heart. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Galatians 2:1-5
Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.