2016-06-26 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2016-06-26 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2016-06-26 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton

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Galatians 5 Sermon
“Freedom’s Fruit”

          • Paul continues his letter with a 1st C, MLK’esque feel…Freedom!

We are FREE!!
Being a part of the new creation, the new people of God, makes us free to be and do things that free people be and do!

What do free people be and do?


And thus we hit the apex of Paul’s letter in chapter 5.

“For FREEDOM Christ has set us free!!
Stand firm, then, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!”

> You are to be people-keepers…don’t keep on getting sucked back in to pattern of being rule keepers (even tho’ you come by it naturally).

[skip 12 verses]…we’ll come back to these, very briefly…later.

I suspect Paul had learned enough in his 17 years of church planting and hanging out with Christ-ians that just leaving it at “freedom and Christ” would not be enough. Remember, he’s heard that these Jesus-loving saints have turned to line-drawing “twisters” [abandon-ers] of the gospel message in the matter of a decade or so so he’s quick to set the trajectory for this “freedom and Christ” exhortation.

“For you were called to freedom, sisters and brothers; ONLY …do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgance…
BUT through LOVE become slaves (wha?) to one another.”

[but I thought you said their was no slave or free?]

Paul knows the Galatian (gate-keepers)…and many of us Baptists all too well.

We love rules. We love power & lines of authority. We love enslaving others to our own perspectives/ideologies, our own pet peeves, our own theological hobby-horses.

Paul says…ok, ok, you can be enslaved.

“BUT…through love become slaves to one another.”


And then he quotes Jesus [ya gotta quote Jesus don’t ya!?]
“For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment {all the law and the prophets hang on this…} ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ “

Don’t be like wild animals, who bite and devour and end up being consumed by one another.

Instead, be consumed by LOVE.

> highlight reel verse >>
“Live by the Spirit, I say, and YOU WILL NOT satisfy the desires of the flesh.”
[one of my favourite commentators, Matt Skinner, claims this is the worst translated greet phrase in the whole of the NRSV NT!]

It’s not a double imperative – – Do Do
It’s a if/then clause – Live…and the product (fruit!) will be the fruit of the spirit….not the ways of the flesh.

If, in this season of Pentecost, this season that began w/ a celebration & remembrance of the Spirit coming down and inhabiting the lives of Christ-followers, if….we allow the Spirit to continue the good work of new creation in our lives….
then we can’t help but be fruit-bearers.

> not sayin’ it’s easy street, but the promise is that God is doing a new creation work and willing to keep on breathing on us with the breath and presence of Christ….the breath of peace, healing, courage and power…this is the on-going life of the Ris’n Lord in our midst.

I DO HAVE TO PAUSE WITH THE FLESH LIST here before we get to the FRUIT list…

> I’m often surprised when certain Christians carelessly say “Oh, of course those fornicators are going to hell!” … it seems like there’s a certain pick & choosiness in regards to this “who gets in and who gets out of the kingdom” list…

Because we forget how often we are prone to wander…prone to love the way of death VS the way of life…sure, this past week we may not have fornicated or practiced witchcraft…but I’m going to say that there were times when we were prone to walk the way of jealousy, anger, a quarrelsome spirit or envy….am I right?
[hence the confession prayer everybody!]

We are forgiven! Go and sin no more!
Live by the Spirit!

And here’s what “not gratifying the desires of the flesh looks like”…

It’s fruit!

This is one of my favourite verses for Christian living.
And it just so happens that it’s also a great “measurable objective” for the Christian life and Christian community.
To answer the question: “How do we know that our church is actually doing something that is Jesus-y and good for the world?”
Fruit check!

You wanna know what Freedom in Christ looks like? Smells like? Feels like? Walks & talks like?

It’s a Fruit Basket.

Fruit Basket Church. F B C.

It’s interesting that Paul uses the singular fruit…and I believe it’s because he wants to keep this nine-fold fruit in 1 entity…1 community….1 Lord, 1 baptism, 1 faith….
1 fruit to rule them all!

And I like the image of fruit basket, because it reminds us that it’s not an individual endeavor here…this is US, as community, getting the basket work done!

Paul rarely writes “you” as singular.
It’s almost always “y’all.”

So the fruit basket image is helpful for us…because we can’t (or we’re not expected) to be all this fruit at the same time…I am not perpetually joy full. I am not perpetually patient. I am not perpetually kind.

But we, as a community of faith, as we allow the Spirit of the Living God to fall upon us, to fill us, to enthuse us…

We can be this 9-fold fruit all the time!

… in a never-ending fruit basket church marathon.

All fruit, All the time….Fruit Basket Church!
We live the fruit so you don’t have to loot…it’s free, it’s available…
and it’s always in season!!


Now…lest we think that Christianity is just one big fruit party…let us remember the context of this letter to the Galatians. This is a church that is diverse…probably started off as a group of fairly simple, rural, blue collar folk who over the years were (in the best way possible) infiltrated with jewish, more educated, and more sophisticated folk…yet all trying to keep things equal in the name of “Jesus is Lord!” But over the years, the rule-keeping Judaizers have pulled a bait & switch. Now there’s this push to bring back religious rule-keeping and “proving your worth” spirituality to keep you as a member in good standing at First Gall Church.
And thus this letter is full of Paul’s urging (sometimes angry?) urging for this young church to get back on course…in v. 10 he’s peeved with those in the church who are causing confusion…and in verse 12 he’s even so bold to say that those who are pushing for circumcision to be the painful proof of true-blue Christianity that they ought to do more than just circumcise, they ought to castrate…themselves!

So there’s serious stuff at stake here. It’s a matter of true life in the Spirit and dwelling in the realm of new creation, or staying stuck in the ways of death, religious ritual and even spiritual harm!

So Fruit Basket Church, being fruity is not just an “in-house-feel-good-party” for the new people of God, it is a good news “living, organic object lesson” on how God loves and moves in the world.

Frederich Buechner quote:
“You shall know them by their fruits,” Jesus says…
Saint Paul is echoing him when he writes to the Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.”

This…is the gospel that Jesus…proclaimed with his lips and lived with his life, not just preaching to the dispossessed of his day from a high pulpit, but coming down and acting it out by giving himself to them body and soul as if he actually enjoyed it – horrifying all Jericho by spending the night there not with the local rabbi, say, or some prominent Pharisee but with Zaccheus of all people, the crooked tax collector. When Simon the Pharisee laid into him for letting a streetwalker dry his feet with her hair, Jesus said, “I tell you her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”

It is no wonder that from the very start of his ministry the forces of Jewish morality and of Roman law were both out to get him because to him the only morality that mattered was the one that sprang from the forgiven heart like fruit from the well-watered tree, and the only law he acknowledged as ultimate was the law of love.

>> Closing moments of reflection:
“Fruit from the well-watered tree”…
Q: What part of the 9-fold fruit percolates in your heart and mind today?

In a quiet moment…water it…with worship, grace, beauty, care, mindfulness…

Maybe this will be your nine-week summer fruit – – use this fruit as the centre-piece for your times of reflection, silence, prayer or worship…

And the good news, is that as we do this together, we put Christ’s life on display and we, like Jesus, acknowledge that the only law that has ultimate authority in our lives (and in our church) is the law of love.

[A quiet moment to behold a fruit…]

Closing prayer:
From “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals”:
Lord God, when the hungry are fed, the sick healed, the lonely made family,
the outcast brought in, the sinner forgiven, the tyrant transformed, and the enemy reconciled, we know your work by the fruit it produces.
May our lives bear fruit worthy of your name. Amen.