‘everyday theology’ posts are bite-sized ideas to chew on from scripture, from other works of theology, and from life. feel free to share wherever you hang out on the internet!
Paul’s contrast of the Spirit and flesh in Galatians is strong (and not without some dramatic language!) He uses the Greek word “pistis” (meaning: trust) in this context in chapter 3—challenging the Galatians on the issue of whether they would put their trust in the message of the gospel that they first believed (as Abraham did), or whether they would put their trust in the “works of the flesh” (likely, circumcision as an outward sign.)
To be “sons of Abraham” (3:6-9) means that our righteousness before God comes by way of our trusting in God. It is by faith (belief and trust working together) that we are made right before God and are able to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the living out of belief, as we see exemplified in Abraham’s life. He trusted God.
This word, trust, is key to my own experience in the Spirit. I came to knowledge and faith as a child (about 8) and grew in the measure of what I understood for many years. However, in my 20’s, I faced some serious trials that I was not mature enough to withstand, which broke my trust of the Lord for a season. Even though I had info/knowledge of Jesus, and of the Christian life, I was not walking in belief. In fact, I actually had a dis-trust of God during that time.
After a major trauma, the Lord used this low point to bring me back to Himself in a way that was both confrontational (specifically in that issue of belief) and so sweet (in His pursuit of me.) I turned to Him at 27 and have been growing in faith (and trust!) ever since.
There are key moments that I remember the Spirit being so real to me, especially moments when I was at a crossroad or point of decision. Each of those times, it was as if the Spirit was inviting me into something…a new/deeper kind of life. This looked like a simple trusting of the gospel message as a child. As a teenager it was a choice to follow in the “narrow way” (that looked different from my peers.) Later, as an adult, the invitation was more of a challenge–like the Spirit was asking me, do you believe? do you really trust me?
Wuest translates Paul’s message to the Galatians this way:
“Having begun by means of the Spirit, now are you being brought to spiritual maturity by the flesh? So many things did you suffer in vain…? Therefore, the One who is constantly supplying the Spirit to you in bountiful measure, and constantly working miracles among you, by means of law/works is He doing these things, or by means of the message which proclaims faith? …Those who are [the] believing ones are being blessed in company with believing Abraham.” (3:1-5, 9)
In my free will, sometimes I choose my own way, which always leads to pain, frustration, and brokenness (within myself and with others.) But when I am able to choose His way, by grace, the fruit that comes is always life, peace, and whole-ness. My trust of the Lord deepens every time that I turn to Him and trust that He is who the scriptures say that He is: the Good Shepherd, the light of the world, the righteous King, and the true source of eternal Life.