One of the things I can find myself doing – and I bet you do, too – is being selective in my reading of Scripture. I select the sins which don’t appeal to me, or that I don’t want to do and take the position of being against those things. I am not convinced that all sins are equal, but I do think that God takes a very dim view of many of the things in which we often eagerly participate. Today, let’s listen together to a passage from the book of Galatians that we can easily gloss over. Then, let’s drill down to some uncomfortable details. Here’s the passage from chapter five:
What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 Good New Translation)
What do you think of that passage? The New American Standard translation begins this way: “Now the deeds of the flesh are…” Then Paul lists bad things that are not consistent with the fruits of the Spirit. He ends with this chilling statement: “I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God.” OK, I’m fine with not doing filthy, indecent things. I never get in fights or participate in witchcraft and haven’t been drunk since I was 19 years old. But we have to consider the rest of the passage. How about becoming enemies, becoming jealous, envious, angry or ambitious? Paul is clearly saying that these things prevent us from possessing the Kingdom of God. The message of Jesus is more than saying a special prayer so that we can have Him in our hearts. His message is that the Kingdom of God has come. The Kingdom of God isn’t a future Heaven. The Kingdom of God is living now under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and enjoying His peace, His Presence, His power and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Do you want to possess the Kingdom of God? Let’s agree to live our lives without enmity; without factions; without jealousy, envy and anger. We won’t hate our political opponents, we’ll love them. We’ll seek to live together joyfully under the rulership of King Jesus.
The Kingdom of God has come, and we can participate in it today, right now…and that’s really Good News!