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Living by the Law or living by Faith

Today's PAYG was very timely in terms of my sermon preparation, as Psalm 90 is needing a bit of wrestling into submission!  Or at least it is if I don't want to expend my energy on ancient cause-effect worldviews and why it is (imo) utter nonsense to correlate the floods in southern Scotland and large chunks of England, or the poor UK harvest this year with divine retribution for the UK governments considering legislative changes on topics of equality.  Think about it... UK government contemplates changes in marriage law, so God smites parts of Britain leaving devout Christians and the poorest of the poor (by UK standards) homeless and/or penniless...  Tosh, gibberish and nonsense, as the saying goes.  I know where I want to go with the psalm, just not quite worked out what the route plan look like!

Galatians 3, and Paul at his tactless best: "are you Galatians mad?"  And then a consideration of life under law and life directed by faith.  The commentator on PAYG observed how much easier and less risky is life under law compared with the vulnerability and uncertainty of life by faith.  Legalism negates the need to think or understand, life becomes formulaic, do this, don't do that, and all will be well.  Faith is scary, it leaves us with questions and doubts, sometimes God seems silent or even absent, the route ahead is shrouded in mist, there are no easy answers... bad things happen to good people, people we thought were good turn out to be bad, cheats do prosper... faith accepts that we live with a degree of uncertainty; for all our best endeavours, and even if we keep every rule that we know of, it could yet all fall apart...

To live by faith is, in a worldly sense, bonkers.  When I left a well-paid career to follow God's call to ordained ministry, which meant four years of living by faith (in the financial sense) with no guarantee of a job at the end of it, people thought I was nuts.  Yes, I probably was, and yet it was incredibly fulfilling and liberating.  Set free to re-explore my faith, to recover aspects of my spirituality that had been suppressed by various kinds of conformity, and above all to lean more on God rather than my own resources.  I am really glad I had that experience, it taught me a lot about myself and about God.  And now, when I try to distill a message out of a psalm that is anything but trivial, that past experience becomes part of the riches to which I return.  Good to be reminded of that at a time when I am materially secure, and life risks becoming rather comfortable.

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