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The Grace Project

That Syncing Feeling …

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Sooner or later we discover that SINKING FEELING that is the inevitable outcome of a life lived for ourselves.   I regret that much of what we call Christianity will also cause you to sink and not soar.   Self-effort be it our attempting to please ourselves or to please God - living for ourselves or for God can only end in tears.    
A friend wrote to me recently about Galatians 5:21 it is verse that causes a number of Christian hearts to sink.   However the reality is that the passage is about that SYNC-ING feeling that comes when we walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh. 
 
Let's remind ourselves of what the passage says:
 
Galatians 5:19-26:  "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  (21) I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
     
Verse 21 sits between Paul's description of the works of the flesh and his contrasting picture of the fruit of the Spirit and it's location is important.    The works of the flesh describe a kingdom of God forfeiting lifestyle and by definition the fruit of the Spirit depict a kingdom of God inheriting one,  but what does inheriting the kingdom of God mean? 
 
I think that we tend get muddled here because our minds are still covered with an illusory veil of separation which can only be removed when we turn to Christ.   Until then we are wont to see God as being up there somewhere whilst we are down here trying to be good enough to one day get up there too.   We think about an inheritance being something we get when somebody dies; and we think that when we die we will go to heaven, which we presume is the kingdom of God.     So depending on our behaviour we're either sinking or soaring along the road to heaven. With me so far?
 
However as I read the New Covenant and Galatians in particular it seems to me that this is the furthest thing from Paul's mind.    
 
In the first place he does not see us as being separate from God or from one another that we are ONE is the axiom of the entire bible. Oneness with God and each other is what we call union.   
 
Secondly the kingdom of God is not up there it is IN HERE.   The kingdom of God is within us plain and simple.   
So many Christians live a life of needless anxiety because they miss the whole point of life which is to live in and as the PRESENCE in the PRESENT.   Christians tend to live either in the past or the future but the Kingdom of God is in the HERE and  NOW not the WHEN and THEN! 
 
So the question is what does it mean to say that we won't inherit the Kingdom of God?  
 
Let's go back to our word association around the word 'inheritance'  as I said we think about an inheritance being something we get when somebody dies.  Well what if that was right but what if that somebody wasn't somebody else but was US.  The word 'inherit' here simply means to to become partaker of, to obtain.    You see for Paul our inheritance isn't some hope deferred making us sick kind of inheritance any more than the kingdom of God is in the great bye and bye.  The Kingdom of Heaven we go WHEN die that is our ultimate destination but The Kingdom of God is what will come IF we die - to ourselves.  The moment we do we inherit the kingdom of God. We are talking about partaking of the Kingdom of God - not and I stress not in the Kingdom of Heaven (up there) but here on the earth!   Again,  Paul is not talking about going to heaven WHEN you die; he is taking about diffusing heaven IF you die.    As and when we die, we are sync'd with him.  We are crucified with Christ, it is no longer us who live but Christ that lives in and as us ...
 
Look for a moment at the Gal 5 the first thing we notice is that the forfeiting behaviours are the result of 'works' (good or bad) and the inheriting attitude is 'fruit' Whatever that is attempted in our own strength constitutes works.  In contrast, the Spirit does not “work”.  He bears fruit.  
 
Now of course flesh cannot inherit the kingdom - what's that mean other than it cannot channel it - it cannot participate in it.  flesh and spirit are like oil and water they simply don't mix.
 
Now the key thing to see is this, the works of the flesh are all the products of self-centeredness, a forgetfulness that looks away from God to itself.  Self asks the question "What do I want?  How can I get it?  Who can I take it from?    
 
In my book The Bonsai Conspiracy  I  suggested that if we clustered the works of the flesh we would see that what Paul has in mind is kind of race to the bottom which is the decent into the Eros self life.  ( I contrast eros and agape as the way of love - the first being self love and the latter other love): 
 

Eros’ Question – What Do I Want?

 

 

 

 

 

1

What Do I Want? (Adultery/Lust)

 

This is the core motivation of false “love” (self-love). 

When my life motivation is motivated by this, the inevitable consequence is “works” –

  1. Sexual Immorality, Impurity, Sensuality

 

2

Who Can Help Me Get What I Want?

 

 

  1. This is triggered when self-love fails to satisfy.“Works” help me get what I want –Idolatry, Sorcery

 

 

3

Effects of Not Getting What I Want

 

 

 

  1. This is set off when my attempt to manipulate God or gods fails.  Result –Enmity, Strife, JealousyFits of Anger, Rivalries, Dissensions, Divisions, Envy

 

 

 

4

Coping With Not Getting What I Want

 

 

 

 

This simply compounds the problem.

Since I cannot have what I want and I cannot live with the pain, I indulge in –

  1. Drunkenness
  2. Orgies and things like these

 

In essence – out of control

 
By contrast the fruit of the Spirit is a forgetfulness that looks away from itself and looks to God.  The spiritual self asks the question "What do they need?  How can I them get it ?  Who can I give it to ?  So self-evidently the latter is kingdom participation the former is not.    When we live in this way we're are sync'd with God's heart.  His heart is our heart. 
 
So what is at the heart of Paul's discussion in Gal 5 is the heat of the spiritual warfare battle which is a struggle for control.  The control of self.   Notice that the deepest (and  darkest)  work of the flesh is to get us out of control, the deepest work of the Spirit is self-control.  Self-control is the by-product of a self-forgetfulness which looks away from itself to God for meaning and purpose to life.  
 
This self-forgetfulness is the required essential ingredient for those who wish to participate in the Kingdom of God and the adventures in the Spirit here on earth and enables us to experience that syncing feeling...  
 

 

 
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