Memorize & Ponder for Sunday Sep 14, 2014
Barriers to Accepting Salvation - Distraction
Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Throughout 2014, the Christian community at Brentwood Presbyterian Church is getting to know Jesus, the Christ, in a refreshing and transformative way. We invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying in the text, then question how those insights might change the ways you see things and act in the world. Share your thoughts during the week on the meaning the Spirit creates for you in this text by posting a comment here.
A Provocative Pondering
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us provoke one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together … (Hebrews 10:23-25a)
In writing to the Galatians, the apostle Paul is perplexed. They are paying attention to leaders who are preaching and teaching a gospel that is not centred on the grace of Jesus Christ. It replaces the gospel with an old version of the law. The gospel, as Paul received it and handed it on, is about freedom, what you get to do in gratitude for God’s grace. These leaders are preaching a gospel of works, of obeying the law, of what you have to do.
For Paul, this is a distraction that leads to distortion and dysfunction. These false teachers draw attention away from the beauty and benefits of God’s freely given grace in Jesus Christ. Instead, they focus their listeners’ attention on the burdens of following the law in order to be right. It’s the old purity codes revived – everything that Jesus challenged in his life and witness.
For Paul, and for us, there is a new way of seeing things that is centred on God’s freely-given, undeserved grace. The gift holds the centre of our attention. It provides the ability to keep our attention focused on the products of the Spirit’s work in and through us. Anything that draws our attention away from this reality is a distraction and is filled with the dangers of ignoring our calling to be blessings.
What is distracting you away from this focus on God’s gift of grace in Christ? What simple, but powerful, habits or rituals can you imagine developing to bring your attention back to the reality of grace in your life, to the reality of your life being lived in Christ?
What does this mean for you? Give it some thought this week and remember that you can start a conversation about this question right here in the comments section
Join us in our study groups and worship services to ponder together what the Spirit is teaching us through this text.