Warm crispy waffles smothered in peanut butter and doused in heavenly maple syrup. The smell is intoxicating. You pick up your knife and slice off a generous chunk. Syrup drips from the waffle as you spike it with your fork, and it makes it’s way smoothly to your mouth. You bite down and an explosion of flavor fills your senses. That, my friends, is exactly what I am imagining right now.
On a slightly funnier, and possibly disgusting, note. Jeff and I have noticed that our sense of smell has become quite acute. Strangely enough, when my roommate made dinner last night I could smell all the individual ingredients. When Jeff and I are in the cafeteria hanging out with friends we have noticed that all the individual smells are quite easily distinguishable. Jeff even said he could smell people peeing while he took a shower! That makes me way more appreciative of my private bathroom.
Jeff noticed this first, but we have both gotten smaller. He has lost a lot more than me, you can almost see his ribs, but then again when we started this I had a gut. My gut has tapered off a bit, but what I really noticed today were my hands. I clasp my hands together a lot and they feel nowhere near as meaty as normal. I also noticed that my thumb and pinky reach around my arm again. Been a couple years since that has happened. It is kinda neat cause I have been wanting to slim my gut down, but at the same time it is kinda scary. If our bodies change this much in just one week what happened to Jesus when he fasted for 40 days? He musta been a scarecrow! I am definitely ready to start eating again. Less than 48 hours! We started this fast by breaking bread together, and we are going to end it by breaking bread together. Pretty powerful symbology for me.
Today we studied Galatians 5. There are a couple key points that I want to hit on that will clarify some of yesterdays post. Yesterday I said that when we are in Jesus the law no longer applies and we can worship however we want. This caused backlash by a few people. Chapter 5 explains better than I can what that freedom means. Let’s see what it says shall we?
First I want to start with verse 1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This verse kinda hits where Jeff and I were when we started this week, and it addresses something we both desire. Before this week we had many sexual thoughts throughout the day. Many of them coming unbidden, but sometimes purposeful. Neither of us like how we feel after the thoughts. It really feels like we have betrayed not only God, but the women around us as well. Ephesians 5:1-5 says, “…But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking…” Through this week and learning to rely on God more and more both Jeff and I have experienced an amazing phenomena, no more sexual thoughts! We are both praying fervently that after this week that will stick. At least if we begin having thoughts again we will be able to use this week as an anchor to look back at and say, “Hey! If I could go without food for a week then this thought thing should be a non issue!”
Again, let me list some verses from this chapter that show us that we are no longer under the law, but free to worship God as we choose. Then I will explain what that freedom really entails. Note that when Paul talks about circumcision he is talking about following the law.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the WHOLE law.
4. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
11. Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
18. If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.
So what does the freedom we have in Christ really mean? I say that we can worship God however we choose, others say wait a sec, you still need to worship God according to the law. Does the Bible have anything to say about it? Verse 6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressed in love.” So Jesus really does not place any value on the law here. What Jesus wants is for us to follow him in faith and dish out love. We are free, but how do we use it? “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.(13)” Obviously if we are following Jesus then we should not be sinning right? We should be serving in love. This is a pretty basic and fundamental truth of Christianity that is often over looked by all parties. Here is the part that shows what happens when we are in Christ. Through this scripture we realize that yes, we truly are free to worship God how we choose. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.(16-18)” I can worship God however I want because I am living in Christ’s Spirit and clearly if I am living in the Spirit I will be lead to worship in a way that is gratifying to God. Here is the point where some might argue that we are human and therefore imperfect and incapable of following the Spirit and worshiping correctly. We may be doing something from our sinful nature. But, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.(24)” BAM! My sinful nature is dead and I am free to follow the Spirit and worship God!
Paul is even kind enough to share some things that are sin with us so we know what to stay away from. See Jesus can only lead us if we are truly following him. If we are not then we are doing it by ourselves and need to recognize what the dangers are. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.(19-21)” Further he tells us, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.(26)”
Jesus loves us and has given us incredible freedom in himself. He has freed us from the laws(which we already learned were to lead us to him anyways) that had us bound up so much that we could never reach God. Since Jesus has taken care of the laws, we are now able to come face to face with God and have a personal relationship with him.