July 10, 2014

Our Spiritual Birthright Is Life In-Christ (Proper 15)

A “birthright” is something you are entitled to because you were born under certain circumstances. Esau is the first-born son. He foolishly gives up his birthright of inheriting his fathers’ land and spiritual blessings. Our birthright as “Christians, “born again” in the power of the Holy Spirit, is eternal spiritual life, joined spiritually to Jesus Christ. Our lives are joined to His life by our love – our emotional attachment of faith. Our lives are a constant struggle to understand this and resist the temptations of our ‘natural self’ which can cause us to lose our spiritual birth-right.

1. The Parable of the Sower explains how we get our spiritual birth-right
A parable uses a simple visible activity to explain an invisible spiritual process. In this case the “seed” is the Word - the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ that is explained in the Bible. This good news is scattered everywhere, in every language and in every country. Everyone has an opportunity to read the Bible and make the effort to understand its meaning. Everyone can join a Bible Study group, church or fellowship where the meaning is explained.
·         The key is learning and understanding.
·         Understanding leads to a faith decision and being spiritually “born again”.

This is what leads to personal spiritual growth, joined spiritually to Jesus by our love and what is called “life in-Christ”. This is usually a long and painful journey where we have to make hard choices. The Parable warns us of seeds being snatched by birds, withering and dying for lack of roots and being choked out by the thorns of busyness.

2. Satan can snatch away our spiritual birth-right like a bird taking seed on a path.
Seed exposed on a path is very vulnerable. This is why we all need a spiritual community. We all need the support and covering in prayer by others that protects us from the temptations and distractions of the world.
·         ‘Other voices’ that tell us we are too tired or too busy to read our Bible or pray.
·         Paul talks about our “natural self” that struggles against our spiritual self.
·         The reason there are no solitary Christians is that we need others to help us understand the message of the Bible.

3. Our birth-right of life in-Christ can die like a plant with no roots
The “Word” - the message of the Kingdom of heaven, is not easy to grasp. Children need a lot of teaching in the home by their parents. I remember being shocked by a respected speaker who said we should shut down the Sunday Schools and focus on teaching the parents to be serious Christians. What use is it to send children to Sunday school if Dad is going to stay at home and teach them by example that church is not important? Children need good modelling by parents as well as basic teaching if they are going to grow up with the roots they will need to understand the Word.

4. Our birth-right of life in Christ can be choked out by busyness
When people say they do not have time to pray or read the Bible, what they mean is these things are not important to them. How we spend our time is a measure of our priorities. It is healthy to ask yourself how many hours a week you spend watching TV as opposed to reading the Bible. How much time do you spend “relaxing” as opposed to praying? Our lives are full of many things to do. Together they can choke off our spiritual life and put us in the position of Esau who sold his birth-right for a bowl of stew.

Life challenges us to claim our birth-right of spiritual life in-Christ
It is very easy to become like Esau who was so busy with hunting and so distracted by his hunger that he forgot about God and the value of his birth-right. As Christians we have a much more valuable birth-right. Our birth-right is to be forgiven and made acceptable to God, even when we are not worthy.
·         We need to stay focused to understand and believe this
·         We need to create a clean heart for the Holy Spirit to live in
·         Holy Spirit will guide us and fill us with love, joy and peace 

The Parable of the Sower reminds us that not everyone will be able to do this, particularly those without spiritual roots in their families; those who do not have a spiritual community and those who are distracted by the business of life.
Let us all remember this lesson as we strive to gain and hang on to our spiritual birthright of eternal spiritual life in Christ.

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