Message Supplement for 26 June 2016–“Christ Combo”

Today we have a one-two punch from Galatians and Luke, a combined message which covers mutual love and following God. First up is the good stuff from Galatians 5:1,13-25, an encouragement about what it means to love one another. Please join me in celebrating are liberation from the destructive burden of religious law. As you read the Galatians passage, notice that there’s no shortage of cited bad behavior and attitudes. As in real life, the list of bad stuff is almost endless, including such harmful states of anger, addiction, fighting, jealously, and much else.

As tempting as it is to slip backwards into religious law, history proves that the Old Testament approach failed. No amount of laws—and there were too many—could solve the problem of peoples’ bad behavior. Religious rules are a losing game that Jesus’ denounced; he was the final sacrifice—no more animals needed. Thank God! We are free from the power of condemnation; we are freed for a life of love. Any religion driven by too many rules will ultimately fail or, even worse, remain cancerous. God’s forgiveness heals the tumor of bad religion. Now, we can journey the path of spiritual vitality.

We are supposed to cultivate good attitudes and behaviors. We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and thereby fulfill the greatest commandment, which demonstrates the power of love. We are free to live a life guided by God’s Spirit, and as such we achieve our destiny and realize the greatest joy. There is no limit to how much love we can engage. Religious law can never accomplish what can be done through love. True, it is more difficult to guide our lives by principles. All sorts of religions have laws and regulations that tell people what to do and that impose strict guidelines. However, the real challenge is to instill within followers a lifestyle of healthy living. This involves being guided by the spirit and the love principle.

Now we move to the reading from Luke 9:51-62, which connects with Galatians on the basis of prioritizing love. Jesus was keen on recruiting followers who were serious about spreading his Gospel, which is the good news about God’s salvation. The scene for this section of Luke has Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. Jesus and his closest followers passed through Samaria, which was hated by the Jews because of a quarrel about intermarriage and ethnic compromise. Jesus wasn’t received well by the Samaritans because they were sensitive about anyone going to the Jewish capital. Jesus’ followers reacted poorly by suggesting that fire should destroy the Samaritan village. Not so! Jesus wasn’t into retribution or nursing old grudges. But as for his closest followers, so much for loving one another. This goes to show that even Jesus’ closest friends—the apostles—didn’t always get it right. Thankfully, we can learn from their mistakes.

The next stage in Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem involved several people coming to him. Jesus told one person that to join him meant a life of wandering. Another potential follower wanted to take care of a family member before joining Jesus. A third likely follower might have accompanied Jesus but he said he first needed to take care of family business. Jesus had harsh words for all of these would-be disciples. Ouch!            It seems as if all the failed followers were distracted by legitimate concerns. Jesus’ criticism of their excuses highlights competing commitments. It’s not that they didn’t have good reasons for what they valued, but Jesus couldn’t wait. Jesus’ circumstances didn’t permit hesitation. The question for us is how much of this same urgency falls on us. The tension we feel between what we want to do and God’s mission is productive if we wrestle and grow.

Now, the tie-in to loving others is that we activate our love of God by how we treat other people. And Luke’s passage reminds us that so serious was Jesus’ timetable of earthly ministry that there could be no wavering. The call for us is to be willing to sacrifice our agenda for following God (which is all about love). It’s not that there’s always a conflict between serving God and our personal concerns but we must remain open, willing to shift our change in pursuing truth. So strong is the call to love one another that we must be free to let the Spirit lead us, and to not permit anything to impede our spiritual vitality. Are you ready to join Jesus on the path of righteousness? I guarantee you that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

Today we have a one-two punch from Galatians and Luke, a combined message which covers mutual love and following God. First up is the good stuff from Galatians 5:1,13-25, an encouragement about what it means to love one another. Please join me in celebrating are liberation from the destructive burden of religious law. As you read the Galatians passage, notice that there’s no shortage of cited bad behavior and attitudes. As in real life, the list of bad stuff is almost endless, including such harmful states of anger, addiction, fighting, jealously, and much else.

As tempting as it is to slip backwards into religious law, history proves that the Old Testament approach failed. No amount of laws—and there were too many—could solve the problem of peoples’ bad behavior. Religious rules are a losing game that Jesus’ denounced; he was the final sacrifice—no more animals needed. Thank God! We are free from the power of condemnation; we are freed for a life of love. Any religion driven by too many rules will ultimately fail or, even worse, remain cancerous. God’s forgiveness heals the tumor of bad religion. Now, we can journey the path of spiritual vitality.

We are supposed to cultivate good attitudes and behaviors. We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and thereby fulfill the greatest commandment, which demonstrates the power of love. We are free to live a life guided by God’s Spirit, and as such we achieve our destiny and realize the greatest joy. There is no limit to how much love we can engage. Religious law can never accomplish what can be done through love. True, it is more difficult to guide our lives by principles. All sorts of religions have laws and regulations that tell people what to do and that impose strict guidelines. However, the real challenge is to instill within followers a lifestyle of healthy living. This involves being guided by the spirit and the love principle.

Now we move to the reading from Luke 9:51-62, which connects with Galatians on the basis of prioritizing love. Jesus was keen on recruiting followers who were serious about spreading his Gospel, which is the good news about God’s salvation. The scene for this section of Luke has Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. Jesus and his closest followers passed through Samaria, which was hated by the Jews because of a quarrel about intermarriage and ethnic compromise. Jesus wasn’t received well by the Samaritans because they were sensitive about anyone going to the Jewish capital. Jesus’ followers reacted poorly by suggesting that fire should destroy the Samaritan village. Not so! Jesus wasn’t into retribution or nursing old grudges. But as for his closest followers, so much for loving one another. This goes to show that even Jesus’ closest friends—the apostles—didn’t always get it right. Thankfully, we can learn from their mistakes.

The next stage in Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem involved several people coming to him. Jesus told one person that to join him meant a life of wandering. Another potential follower wanted to take care of a family member before joining Jesus. A third likely follower might have accompanied Jesus but he said he first needed to take care of family business. Jesus had harsh words for all of these would-be disciples. Ouch!            It seems as if all the failed followers were distracted by legitimate concerns. Jesus’ criticism of their excuses highlights competing commitments. It’s not that they didn’t have good reasons for what they valued, but Jesus couldn’t wait. Jesus’ circumstances didn’t permit hesitation. The question for us is how much of this same urgency falls on us. The tension we feel between what we want to do and God’s mission is productive if we wrestle and grow.

Now, the tie-in to loving others is that we activate our love of God by how we treat other people. And Luke’s passage reminds us that so serious was Jesus’ timetable of earthly ministry that there could be no wavering. The call for us is to be willing to sacrifice our agenda for following God (which is all about love). It’s not that there’s always a conflict between serving God and our personal concerns but we must remain open, willing to shift our change in pursuing truth. So strong is the call to love one another that we must be free to let the Spirit lead us, and to not permit anything to impede our spiritual vitality. Are you ready to join Jesus on the path of righteousness? I guarantee you that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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