Okay, now it’s cold. It officially started to snow today, and I got all excited. But the temperature has also dropped considerably, and there’s some decent wind blowing, so it’s gonna get kinda chilly here in the next couple of days.
That means that it’s time to start preparing for the holiday season (yes, I know -- I don’t like thinking about it this early, either). But I want everyone to be aware of our Congregational Thanksgiving Prayer Service coming up on Wednesday, November 26th, and our Christmas Caroling Party coming up on Wednesday, December 3rd. Move whatever you need to move around so that you can join us for these times of joyful fellowship and worship.
We’re also in the middle of collecting those shoeboxes for our annual Operation Christmas Child drive. The Youth Group has already put together 14 boxes of their own, so I’m hoping that the rest of the church family can at least match what our teenagers have done. These shoeboxes may seem fairly simple to our American eyes, but to kids around the world with very little, they’re a genuine, tangible expression of the fact that God loves them -- and that God’s people are ambassadors of God’s love to all of His family, whomever and wherever they are.
We talked a little bit about that in our message this week, looking at Galatians chapter 5. See, the churches in Galatia had lost sight of the simple but profound truth that we’re saved not because we’re so good, but because God is so good -- not because of anything that we’ve done, but because of all that He’s already done on our behalf. They had begun to lean on following the Law of Judaism again, as if obeying every commandment could somehow save them -- as if their salvation depended on how good they were.
Of course, if salvation depends on how good we are, then none of us is going to be saved. I mean, Paul’s whole point in Galatians and Romans is that the Law just acted like a schoolmaster, showing us what we’re doing wrong, so that we can see the need for a Saviour who does it right. There’s no way that we could fulfill everything in the Law -- and if you break even one part of the Law, then you’re a lawbreaker.
But once that Saviour came and gave His life to pay for what we so clearly have fallen short in, then we were no longer under the supervision of that schoolmaster. It’s like we graduated -- not that none of what came before mattered, but that all of it had always been intended to prepare us for where we’re sitting right now, spiritually. To graduate from school and yet think that you still had to go to classes, pass tests, get a report card, etc., would be... well... odd at best. Don’t do that spiritually, either.
But for some people, trying to follow the 613 commands of the Law can seem easier than having to figure out how to live in the “real world” as a mature believer. It’s easier to dot “i”s and cross “t”s than it is to evaluate every situation and ask yourself, “How would I love God and my neighbor best in this situation?”
That takes relational thought, whereas the other just takes dogged obedience.
But that’s what we’ve been saved into -- not another dogma-bound duty to work toward, but a relationship as part of the family of God, joint-heirs with Christ of all of Creation.
So don’t shackle yourself to slavery to a Law -- even a new, Christian-y version of one that judges everyone (including yourself) by what you think is “holy enough” behavior.
Instead, take joy for being children of the Living God -- and live that out naturally in all that you do.