July 13, 2017
Our Birthright Is Spiritual Life In-Christ (Proper 15)
A “birthright” is something you are entitled to because of who your parents are. Esau is the first-born son who foolishly gives up his birthright of inheriting his fathers’ land and spiritual blessings. Our birthright as “Christians, “born again” in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, is eternal spiritual life. The Romans reading explains that while we live physically in a mortal body, we have a new spiritual life because the Spirit of Jesus lives in us and guides our life. As we live more and more fully in this spiritual life as we depend on the Holy Spirit to help us understand and overcome the temptations of our ‘natural self’ which can cause us to lose our spiritual birthright. Esau is a warning.
1. We get our spiritual birthright from the seed of the Word
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 discussed and explained.
· The key is making the personal effort to read and study the Bible in a Christian fellowship to understand our birthright
· Understanding leads to a belief
· Belief leads to being spiritually “born again”, having our spiritual eyes opened and receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit
· Holy Spirit is the continuing Word of Jesus in our spirit
· Holy Spirit of Jesus guides our spiritual life-in-Christ
2. Satan can snatch away our spiritual birthright 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 birthright of life in-Christ can die like a plant with no roots
The “Word” - the message of the supernatural 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 birthright 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 birthright for a bowl of stew.
It is Not Easy to claim our birthright 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 birthright. As Christians we have a much more valuable birthright. Our birthright is to be forgiven, made acceptable to God and have an eternal spiritual life of joy in Christ - 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. Our mission is to both claim and proclaim the good news of a new spiritual life of joy in Christ that begins here when we claim our birthright and continues on in heaven after our physical body dies.
Let us all remember this lesson as we strive to gain and hang on to our spiritual birthright of eternal spiritual life in Christ.