Podcast: 4 September 2020

SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published in May 2020.

Welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Next week Liam Brennan will finish our journey through Galatians. Our reading today is Galatians 5:22-26. Today we’ll focus at verse 25:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

REFLECTION:

You may have noticed on your 2020 calendars that today is the 75th Anniversary on VE day. VE Day – or ‘Victory in Europe Day’ – marks the day towards the end of World War Two (WW2) when fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe came to an end. People were so happy that huge crowds turned out on the streets to celebrate. In fact, outside Buckingham Palace in London, people cheered as King George and his family came out onto the balcony to greet everybody. The story goes that Princess Elizabeth and her sister were allowed to leave the palace and celebrate with crowds outside, although they had to do it secretly. Our Queen describes it as “one of the most memorable nights of her life”.

During that time, many people also attended church services to thank God for the victory.

As part of the church’s “online stories” email that gets sent out on Tuesdays, there was a reminder to take some time time to thank God for these men and women, these heroes [of the past] who gave the greatest sacrifice that others may live in peace.

Also, to give thanks for and pray that God blesses all our heroes [of the present] who are taking on another “silent” enemy now, in [new kind of frontline] our hospitals, schools, supermarkets and delivery roles to name a few.

We will be sure to remember and give thanks at the end of this podcast.

You may recall that the last few days we are practically looking at HOW we live in God’s family as followers of Jesus. How we [listening to this podcast] can live this “better life” of true freedom today. Here are some one-liners from the last few days just draw a simple summary together. I know some people may find this helpful:

  • We are no longer slaves but sons and daughters.
  • We relate to God on the basis of faith not on the basis of law.
  • Our chief motivation for living this better life is love.
  • True freedom involves a choice to pick something up or to lay something down for the love of another.

Today we continue to talk about fruitfulness. v25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“What are these fruit?” (v22 & 23)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness (this has implications as generosity, the RSV translates this generosity), faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

That is the fruit of the spirit. [I am not the first to have said this but…] We are to remember that it doesn’t say fruit(s) of the spirit. We are not to think of these virtues as different types that we need to grow in like a strength and weakness finder in a performance review. That is so easily the mindset, I will grit my teeth and I will be patient, be kind, be loving. It doesn’t really work like this. It is one fruit with nine different flavours. Why? This is the fruit of the life of Jesus. He is all these things. We need more of his life flooding through ours.

“How do we grow them?” (v25)

How do we become like Jesus? 

Well let me borrow an illustration from a man called Mike Pilavachi (who was the leader of a youth festival called Soul Survivor). But I’ve changed the details to make this more relevant for those who listen to this podcast.

Since lockdown, I’ve taken up running pretty regularly. It was Lucy’s idea and to my surprise I’m competitive so I had to do it too. Since running there is a certain member of the STC staff team who has been keeping a close eye on me and my running times. I won’t mention any names but he shared on the podcasts last week.

I’m not a good runner. But I’m improving. But there is a way I could become am amazing runner. Imagine for a moment, if Liam Brennan (who is sharing the reflections next week) came and lived his life in me. I know that sounds strange but go with it for a moment. For those that know Liam, you will know he is am amazing runner. I shall not share his times publicly but wow – fast! If he came and lived in me… I could be a pretty good runner. I could run like him.

Here is the point: Jesus, by his Spirit, has made His home in you and I. As Jesus is loving… we can become love. As he is good we can be good. The content (fruit) of Jesus’ character can grow in our character.

We do not need to force ourselves to become like him. We just need “to remain in him and he will remain in us.” Jesus said in John 15.

What we can learn from our focus verse today is that this is not a completely passive exercise. ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’ suggests a kind of intentionality. This image of a fruit tree suggests some cultivation is needed. As we heard yesterday, we are to reflect on what old habits we can prune and what new habits we can cultivate to become more like Jesus.

But it is more important that what we do is to stay close to God. Stay open to Jesus and what he is doing in us. Remain with Him.

Or as it says in Ephesians 3, ‘stay rooted in Him’.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

When we stay rooted in Him, the fruit of his character will come to bear in our lives.

PRAYER:

Lord, on this VE Day we thank you for those who gave the greatest sacrifice that we might live in peace. Protect those in our community who inspire us with their loving service in our present time. And Jesus would you help us to stay close to you and see your wonderful work of transformation in our lives. With thanksgiving in our hearts we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.

BIBLE READING: Galatians 5:22-26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 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.