Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit (Living by the Spirit vs. Sarx)

Irvine Presbyterian Church's women's Wednesday Bible Study started on the first day of fall this year, Sept. 23. Our fall study is titled Choosing Christ in the World: Experiencing God through Scripture and we are meditating on different passages from the Bible each week/day. Our weekly study format when we meet is: 8 – 8: 55 am small group leaders time; 9 – 9: 55 – small group time, 10 - 10: 10 hospitality/fellowship; 10: 10 – 10: 30 am – songs & ACTS prayer in large group, 10: 35 – 11: 15 am – teaching/lecture for large group. This blog post is a summary of the lecture, the Scripture passage used, along with the link to the presentation slides and/or video clip titles I used. Our Fall study will end mid. Nov. I am hoping to post the lectures weekly.

Scripture: Galatians 5: (13) 16 - 26 (Living by the Spirit, The Fruit of the Spirit)
Movie Clip: Luther (2003) with Ralph Fiennes, et al. Scene 2: In Fear of God - Luther wants a merciful God; this scene isn't available and I've substituted the movie trailer below instead of what I actually showed.
Lecture: Introduction to the Ignatius Spiritual Exercises & Living by the Spirit vs. Sarx




Summary: Three things are important to note (among many others) from Scene 2 in "Luther:" 1) Luther is angry with God; he has many questions about God and he is also afraid of God; 2) His mentor: "What is it you are seeking, Luther?" Luther says he wants a merciful God, a God who loves him, he encourages Luther to "bind" himself to Christ; 3) Luther surrenders to Christ: "I am yours. Save me." Look to Christ and we will get to know and feel God's love for his creation - love for each of us, human (with all our weaknesses & strengths, perfection & brokenness), unique (unlike any other), and created in the image of God.

Lecture Highlights:  Ignatius of Loyola lived around the same time as Martin Luther; Loyola was dramatically transformed by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit to give the Spiritual Exercises as a layman. The Ignatius Spiritual Exercises (ISE) are ways to find God and feel his love and power in this world. Imagination - i.e. integration of heart and mind, not just reason/logic but also intuition, is key to this and Ignatius shows us ways to allow God through the Holy Spirit to lead and transform us, while using our imagination along with our intellect when reading the Bible. We will be using the ISE to help us choose Christ and experience God through our study of Scripture by using materials from Joseph Tetlow's adaptation.

Why do the ISE?  The ISE are not dogma, theology or even just disciplines; instead when we engage in the ISE what we seek is an encounter with God, an experience of our Triune God. One way to hear God is to "pray the Scriptures" each day. In response, we experience God, are able to hear the Spirit, and enjoy the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23):
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The fruit of the Spirit is both a gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the grace and consequence of a life lived in the Spirit. We receive love, joy, peace and all the rest as a gift and we feel more love, joy, peace, etc. the more we choose to live in Christ. In Galatians, Paul explains how this happens by explaining the nature of Christian freedom. Christians have freedom in Christ. Our old nature is crucified with Christ and we are free from sin. Freedom in Christ means that faith must work itself out through love, and we must discern the leading of the Spirit from the desires of sarx. Sarx is the greek word for flesh. Sarx can have positive, negative, and neutral consequences; in Galatians Paul often uses it for fallen, human nature, a negative sense. Sarx is also used for human, sensuous, material, nature in a neutral sense.  Christian freedom is not an opportunity for self-indulgence, indulging the flesh. Rather it is an opportunity to discern and choose, voluntarily, to do God's purpose for me rather than what will satisfy my body and ego. The lecture which has more details in the slideshow presentation is available online here [pdf].

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