Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feeding the Birds—Galatians 3:11-14

My sister-in-law, Donna, taught me an important lesson a few years back while sitting on her deck at her Wisconsin summer home. She had so many birds coming in to feed! When I asked her about how she got so many, she summed it up, "You've got to feed 'em." I realized that I didn't feed mine very consistently or with much variety, and really didn't pay that much attention to them after I did feed them. After that summer with Donna, my bird world expanded! I put out different foods, started to pay close attention to what birds were coming, even kept a list. I was shocked to discover that by the end of that summer, I had nearly three dozen different varieties of birds coming. Just because I fed them.

I realized last night that people are like that around the gospel of grace. If we feed them, they will come—to the true gospel, the one that says that God did it all and is doing it all, and that you can rest in what He's done and is doing. He doesn't need your help to rescue you!

The "other gospel', which the Apostle Paul says is no gospel at all, since it is not good news, says that yes, God rescued you initially, but after that, it's up to you. You need to obey, rule yourself and beat your flesh into submission, learn to do what is good and learn how to not do what is wrong...and if you persist in this and don't grow weary, you'll be rescued. That makes me tired just to write it, much less try to live it like I used to. We either discover that we just can't do it and give up, or sadly discover that we can have some success at righteousness and begin to move away from God and just keep doing our own thing. Either way, we move away from God, to despair, or to self righteousness.

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20, ESV) and "Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to us, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:11-14, ESV)

What I realized is that sometimes I get too focused on what others are doing and wanting to fight over the birds and how to feed them. All I need to do is to put out the feed, the birds will come. Indeed, what I've discovered is that when you talk about the true gospel of grace, people flock to it. They want to know that they are no longer defined by their failures to perform, but by the One who performs for them. They want to know that their hearts that have become laden with all the to-do lists and have grown weary from 'never enough' and 'try harder' aren't the path to God at all.

They want to know and need to know that God has put the food out for them, and they only need to come and eat. That's the gospel.