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meditation 11: bad fruit ‘and the like’

19 Aug

‘and’; a word that combines connects and communicates multiple relationships, ideas and works. ‘Ands’ build.

Paul in his letter to Galatians describes ‘bad’ fruit as desires of the flesh. He uses multiple ‘ands’ to build the image of fleshy desires, what I am calling here bad fruit. Paul calls these desires acts:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

All of the fleshly desires above work together. And they work in such a powerful manner that they become life: ‘I warn you, as I did before, that those who live…’ The people of the church in Galatia were living in the flesh ‘before’ this letter; Paul is warning them again. Why? Because the flesh and its desires are so strong. They grow as one. They act internally and externally. How? Fleshly desires grow and build together with ‘ands.’ Impurity and debauchery; idolatry and; factions and envy witchcraft; orgies, and the like.’ And the like. Like calls to like; desire call to other desires; addictions to other overwhelming desires. One desire leads to another and another and another. Each then builds into a series of connecting ‘acts.’ And theses are acts of the flesh, the body, mind and heart, the community of our self work together to infuse and become our spirit. Multiple desires multiply into acts. And these acts of thought and desire then become flesh. A feed-back circle/loop that forms spiritual life. All these desires and their acts then reform one central, controlling and transforming desire. An uber desire.The German word ‘uber’ is a cognate of the Latin word for ‘super’ and the Greek word ‘huper.’ Two languages joined together to form a word beyond a superman; a top gun; a best of the best. This German phrase is our Tower of Babel. On Tweeter @Uber describes their tweeter self as: ‘Everyone’s Private Driver.’ And/or, everyone’s idol; or their uber desire. What then is our uber desire, our driver?

It is: to become another’s desire; to be desired as a desire itself. An ultimate. As,

How many followers do you have?

In the video game ‘Star Wars Jedi Knight’ a gamer can become invincible, an uber Jedi.

As being the centre, the life of the party.

Or being the ultimate underdog, the weak defeating the strong.

The richest gal who dies with the most toys.

The prettiest boy at the party

The thinnest.

Sexiest. Uber person. Beyond human. Desire itself. Real Bad fruit.

So, bad fruit, fleshy desires? How can I live with them without their becoming my life? Can I escape the loop? Get off the roundabout?

My” How to” comes from Paul’s ‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ Slow down, Charles. Walk. Don’t react. Don’t run, dance, don’t get over excited. Don’t let the immediate thought, worry, desire control your actions. Walk. Meditate on the Word as you walk. His Spirit will be ‘gentleness and self-control’ within you. (Paul’s first and only use ‘and’ in his qualities list Spirit fruit: ‘gentleness and self-control.’ These are the only spiritual qualities Paul has working directly together.) Why are only these two qualities joined by ‘and’ when Paul has so many infinite fleshy qualities –‘and the like’ joined together?

Because I believe His gentleness works with our self-control to ‘make me great.’ (Psalm 18: 35) For it is, by the Spirit, how He stoops down into my life, that I can walk away from the flesh, my flesh. He desires great, fruit. Fruit of Him, His Spirit, His gentleness. Me. Built by and with the Spirit. Walking.

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meditation 9: fruit of the spirit, goodness

6 Aug

meditation 9:  fruit of the spirit, goodness

 What is goodness? Can anyone be ‘good?’ Any act?  Any purpose?

As I look at myself, for own motives, loves, looking and coveting, speaking solely for my own heart and self, my answer is “No, not good, not me.”

I can say this because I have glimpses of goodness. From others.  Brief compelling can’t stop thinking about glimpses. My heart replays these vary rare views over and over, over and over. They are so rare; I don’t recognise them at first. Here is a recent one.

Priscilla, my wife, is goodness. Yes, at times she is angry, forgetful, and full of self. But at small, very key life moments, she rises. Her goodness empowered by the spirit shines as a new moon in a clear night sky, or a moving piece of music. She, immediately and without thought, is’ good.’ It is her first instinct.

In mid June I saw an advert for a local Proms concert. St. Jude’s church in Golders Green was to have Sir Willard White sing. Priscilla knew him over 40 years ago at a small church in NYC, The Bronx Household of Faith. She always spoke fondly of him and was excited to see that he was in the UK. I booked two of the last three tickets available and Priscilla called the church to leave a message.Can you please tell Mr White that Priscilla from the Bronx Household of Faith will be at the concert? She would love to say ‘hello.’Graciously, the church and the person Priscilla spoke to assured her that they would leave him her contact information.

We heard nothing in the week between her call and the event. Very excited that Friday, in a slight rain, we arrived to a packed house. When we picked up our tickets, Priscilla again explained to a kind steward how she knew Sir Willard. The event staff listened attentively and assured her Sir Willard would get her hand written note. Ours seats were in the first row off to the side. We went in.‘Perfect ‘was Priscilla’s response to our seats: she could see him; and he might recognise her, though people change.

Sir Willard came on; he had not changed significantly except for the greying of age in his hair. He looked well and sang with power and zeal. He opened with a number of German classical pieces that shared the subject of death. He sang, at times with real power. The interval came.  He and his accompanist left the stage.

As a little girl, Priscilla needed vanilla ice cream to cool her excitement. Returning to her, I spoke to another steward. Yes, Sir Willard would leave the stage at the end of the performance and he would ensure she could have a brief moment with him.

The second act began. My sense of the evening was that of a man singing of death in a place of risen celebration, a church. He seemed a performer, not a worshipper of anything, even his own performance. Needless to say, the evening closed. Priscilla waited and told me how he sang ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ to her in New York before she knew me. The Head steward waited with us at the exit. Sir Willard never appeared. He ducked out to avoid her, my Priscilla.

 And here, here, is where I saw goodness. Myself, I was angry Not even a ‘hello.’ He purposely avoided her, as though she was a stalker. In the Head Steward’s word to me: ‘really, he could use the fans; the work.’  Standing by the exit door till the last possible moment Priscilla said ‘Thank you.’ As we walked to our transport she said, ‘Church must have hurt him. He must be hurting deeply.’I asked her is she was hurting; wasn’t she angry? How insensitive…Priscilla said looking down, ‘You don’t know what he has been though. I have my memory of his singing for me.’How generous; how good.

 

 

Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 

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