NEW SERIES: LIVING IN THE OVERFLOW
So we’re not governed by the 613 Laws given to ancient Israel (see last post). The question is then, what rule book are we following?
Is it the one laid down by our local congregation? The one passed down through our family or our friendship group? The one inside our heads? These may not be formal written codes, but they dominate nonetheless.
These are the shoulds and ought-tos of our Christian lives, the externally imposed rules for spiritual living, the criteria for being ‘good’ Christians. These are the things we beat ourselves (and others) up with; and cover a range of behaviours from spiritual disciplines to use of alcohol, church programme involvement to parenting; weight loss to leisure pursuits.
For many the Christian walk is like one long January, making resolutions, keeping it up for a few days or even weeks, then blowing it and feeling miserable.
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These are the things we tell ourselves we should be doing, and despair because we just don’t seem to have enough discipline. These are the things we judge our fellow believers by.
Sometimes the result can be that we ‘strain out gnats and swallow camels’, to use Jesus’ imaginative hyperbole. All too often, people can be seen as ‘spiritual’ because they have an effective ministry or can quote the bible at length, for example, while a blind eye is taken towards abusive workplace behaviour, an adulterous affair or a judgemental attitude.
But most common is a pervading sense of failure, of having missed the mark; the sense that we were designed to be somehow better, and that there should be more to life than we are experiencing. And so we ask for forgiveness and determine to do improve… tomorrow. For many the Christian walk is like one long January, making resolutions, keeping it up for a few days or even weeks, then blowing it and feeling miserable.
MADE TO LIVE INSIDE OUT
However, God has an answer for this cycle of failure: the truth is we were designed for something better. We were designed to participate in His glory; but we weren’t designed to get there by our own efforts. As new creations, as brand-new people, we were made to live inside-out. Not according to external dos and don’ts, but with life flowing from the inside. Amazingly, God Himself has chosen to take up residence inside us—we need to give Him the freedom to be Himself!
‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
rivers of living water will flow from within them.’
By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Rivers of living water... now that sounds good.
NEXT WEEK: THE WATERS OF LIFE
Jesus promised that instead of a life bound by external rules and regulations, His followers would receive His life, so they could live inside out…
PASS IT ON
[Photo credits: Jonny Gios (wooden list); Nadine Marfurt (river); Davide Baraldi (letterbox) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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