Theme of the Week: The Good News That God Doesn’t Believe In You
Bible Verse: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20, CSB
Scripture Reading: Matthew 17:1-8
It’s Transfiguration, the day when the church celebrates Jesus’s revelation of glory to Peter, James, and John atop the mountain (Matt. 17:1–8). Fridfeldt grabs a little book of sermons and steps into the pulpit to read one of them. One verse from the Bible story catches his eye as he scans the page. It’s near the end of the Gospel account, after Moses and Elijah disappear, after the Father speaks, after the cloud that enveloped Jesus vanishes. Speaking of the disciples, it says, “And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (v. 8).
Looking out over the congregation, Fridfeldt begins to read the sermon aloud. As he does, he realizes, with a growing astonishment, that no one needs to hear this sermon more than he does. The old pastor who had authored this little collection of homilies had been reposing in the parish cemetery for the last half-century, but on this momentous day, he stood in the pulpit, as it were, alongside Fridfeldt, proclaiming a message about “Jesus only.”
“The law constrains a man to look chiefly at himself,” Fridfeldt reads. Indeed, it does. Like a mirror, it constantly throws our flawed perfection back at us. And not only the “big-L” Laws like the Ten Commandments but the “little-l” laws as well. “Little-l” laws are “the demands we feel every day from our culture, those around us, or ourselves.”
Like the laws that command, “Thou shalt be skinny,” “Thou shalt be successful,” “Thou shalt believe in thyself,” or “Thou shalt always come in first place.”
The high and holy day of “little-l” laws is New Year’s day, when we resolve to fix ourselves, improve ourselves, make ourselves right. All these laws push us in only one direction: back to ourselves, inside ourselves, not to Christ.
Excerpted from Upside-Down Spirituality: The 9 Essential Failures of a Faithful Life by Chad Bird, Copyright 2019, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, used by permission.
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