Saturday, May 21, 2011

Touching Base! Part 126

The Cost of Love can be Grief

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

When we choose to love we choose to get hurt.

How true does this statement feel for you? Do you even agree with what it is saying? If you are discussing this TB in a small group, take a few moments to talk about this statement.

Text: Galatians 4:1-20
In our text we find lots of great theology. In fact the deep end of the theology pool is v.1-7. In this section, Paul is using an everyday example to help them understand a truth about their (Gentiles and Jews) status before God. In v.1, 2 Paul raises the issue of an heir and a slave. Back in Paul’s time, until the age of 20-25 the heir, in many ways, was no different from the slave. The child had no access to the inheritance, but in fact was under the watchful eye of the guardians and trustees. In v.3 Paul makes the spiritual application. “We”- referring to all of humanity - were in slavery to the basic principles of the world. In other words, it didn’t matter what your gender, social status or cultural background was, we were all enslaved. Like the child in v.1 we were waiting for the day when we would receive the inheritance. The basic principle that Paul is referring to, I believe, is that the law cannot regenerate or save any man or woman- see chapter 3. But what happened? Just like the child in v.1 the time arrived and we received our inheritance. All humanity that place their faith in Jesus Christ (3:26) step into the “much more” of God. Notice the words and phrases describing this inheritance and new intimacy with God:
  • Sons of God - not a statement that refers to manliness but to intimacy with God
  • Spirit sent into our hearts - God comes near and facilitates that nearness - the Holy Spirit facilitates intimacy but also, in contrast to the law, gives us the power to live for God.
  • Abba Father – a term of intimacy - not everyone can call God “Father”. “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “Papa,” a term of special intimacy rarely if ever used in Judaism to address God directly (see comment on Mk 14:36; Rom 8:15).
Stop and ask yourself or small group these questions:
  • Do I relate to God as though I am His son or a slave? What is the difference?
  • Do I daily welcome the Holy Spirit to empower me? Do I experience the Holy Spirit?
  • Do I view God as my Father in heaven or do I have an unhealthy characterization of God the Father?
Ok, you may be asking, how does the statement, When we choose to love we choose to get hurt, tie in to this text? Well, as we read on, we discover that Paul, who dearly loves these folks (Gentiles who have come to Christ), is broken-hearted over what is happening in their lives. From here to the end of our text we want to answer the following question, why do some relationships hurt so much?

1. Because of the direction some lives take (v.4:1-10)
Ever been hurt in a relationship because someone you loved was doing well, but then they started to regress? It might not be in their spiritual life but in some other area. Note v.8-10. These guys are turning back, turning back to weak and miserable principles. V.10 defines what Paul is talking about. The law is weak and miserable in that some (Judaizers) have said the law can save you. When you try and misuse something it can be weak and miserable. For example try using a tooth pick to paddle a canoe across the Atlantic. That would be a picture of weakness and that would be miserable!

Talk about the pain of watching someone you love turn back. It might be turning away from God and back to old ways or perhaps it could just be the fact that someone is taking steps backward in another area of their life.

2. Because we wonder if anything we did made a difference (v.11)
Note the emotion of fear. In the original language it means to be to be seized with alarm. To be startled by strange sights or occurrences. Have you ever looked at someone you loved and noted strange patterns, concerning ways? Have you ever wondered if all your effort as a friend, parent, mentor, has been a total waste of time?

3. Because we feel like the relationship has changed (v.12-16)
Read through these verses and note statements and phrases that illustrate how the relationship between Paul and the Gentiles has changed.
How painful can it be to realize that a relationship that was at one time strong and healthy has now regressed?

Here are some contrasts in thinking about how relationships can go backwards:

Open… to selective
Trust… to suspicion
Relaxed… to tense
Vulnerable… to guarded
Friend… to enemy (Paul)
Respected… to maligned

What would you add?

4. Because we still care 19-20
One of the reasons we experience the hurt is because we still care about the person who might be rejecting us or doing things that pain our hearts to watch. Paul uses some language here that illustrates how dear these folks are to him. Note the imagery that Paul uses – “dear children”, “in pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you”. Paul is like a mother. There are all kinds of factors attempting to abort the work of God but like a mother he is fighting for them because he cares.

What endearing term would you use to describe the person you love who is causing you pain? Paul called them his dear children.

How would you describe the process of wanting to see them change, grow and mature? Paul draws the parallel of child birth. Mothers might be best to comment here. Dads, don’t even try.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to take some time to pray for the person who comes to mind after reading this article. We all experience pain because of our love for people and the direction their lives sometimes take. It is part of being human.

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