When I was a kid I drank a lot of Capri Sun. Maybe it was the yellow straw, or the idea of drinking out of a foil bag, but there was something really cool about those bad boys that made me tug on moms cart whenever we went to the grocery store. Capri Suns taste great, look cool, but they have almost zero nutritional value. And while I’m on it, they didn’t really pack a whole lot of punch. Pun intended.
They’re a tricky little drink. After running around the yard, or riding my bike around the neighborhood, I’d come running into the house wanting something to quench my thirst. I’d reach into the pantry for a Capri Sun, slow my breathing and heart rate down so I could punch the straw in, and then suck down the bag of ‘juice’ in a matter of seconds. A box of Capri Suns did not last long. And I was always thirsty afterwards. The problem was that I enjoyed my Capri Suns too much to tell my mom that they didn’t really so their job. So I was trapped with a ‘juice’ drink that didn’t really do much for me.
At North County we’ve been doing a series entitled ‘Freedom’ exploring passages from Galatians. It’s been a great series, with a lot of practical application for me. At the very least something is striking a chord with me lately.
I do not live like I am free.
In Galatians 5, Paul gives us several calls to be free. Free from not only things that are harmful, but things that come from good intentions as well.
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I’ve read, and taught on the fruits of the spirit, quite a bit. I’ve held this list up on a pedestal most of my life. Our small group got to talking about this on Monday night. One of the things that we noticed was the context in which this passage exists. Paul uses this list to finish off an idea that was rattling the core of the early Christians. There was a group of people who had enjoyed the Lord’s blessing for generations, and were having to share their blessing with others for the first time. In their desire to make the new group of people more like them, they were trying to convince the new converts that there were other things that needed to be done to follow the Lord. They called for the new converts to be circumcised.
I can understand why the new converts hesitated.
The old guard meant well. It was one of the ways that they had distinguished themselves for years. For them, circumcision was a physical sign of commitment to the Lord, with a serious spiritual significance. The problem was that Jesus fulfilled that law, and circumcision was not part of the new deal. But the old guard had this practice for so long that they took it upon themselves to require this from new converts. It was a stumbling block though. It took the focus off of God, and hid Him behind some man made laws.
It was a mentality that said, If you’re more like us, then you’ll be closer to God.
And then we come to the fruit of the spirit. This list that we hold up as dear, as ideal is not the goal. It is the result. I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful etc… so much so that I have made them laws to follow.
Instead of seeking the fruit, I need to seek God. Then the fruit will come.
I am no longer bound to fruit.
This newfound sense of freedom is exciting. Guilt about not being very patient is subsiding to waves of encouragement enthusiasm about getting to know God through perseverance. Days of little will power over hundred of temptations are replaced by simply controlling how much time I spend with God.
The yoke is easier, and the burden is much, much lighter.
I write this blog for myself, with the understanding that others may be reading through this conversation. This next part is a reminder for me, but if you need to read it as well may you be blessed.
You are free from seeking the fruit of the spirit. Seek God first. Those things come as a result of seeking God. Allow God to bless you the way He sees fit.
May you stop trying to poke a goofy yellow straw into a foil bag and grab a nice, cool, glass of water.
One love, one heart.
Fight Club / Chuck Palahnik
Passion:Awakening / Various Artists
We Will Overcome / Close Your Eyes
Astro Coast / Surfer Blood
*Check out the Freedom sermon series and more at: nccofc.org.