Stand Firm in the Spirit
What guides your decisions? Are you making decisions that align with your values, and your faith? Do you find yourself justifying your choices, “just this once” or “I deserve this”? Every decision we make is practice. Every decision reinforces behaviors and shapes our character and conscience. Eventually, we will be faced with a decision of great importance.
Arizona House Speaker, Rusty Bowers, among many other civil servants were faced with such a decision in December 2020 when they were pressured to overturn election results. In the January 6th attack hearings this week, Bowers read an entry from his journal:
“I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to with any contrived desire towards deflection of my deep, foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace.”
In a moment when his career and reputation were threatened, Bowers stood firm in the Spirit, choosing to follow God’s will rather than his own self-interest.
Both the Gospel (Luke 9:51-62) and the second reading from Galatians (5:1. 13-25) urge us to stand firm in the Spirit. Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem. He has one singular focus. Onward. He will not succumb to retaliation from the rejection of the Samaritans like James and John. Instead, Jesus stood firm in the Spirit following his deliberate and difficult decision to go to Jerusalem where he would face the ultimate rejection.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul instructed the new believers to stand firm in the Spirit, “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) Martin Luther called this desire of the flesh incurvatus in se, that is “turned or curved inward on oneself.” When we stand firm in the Spirit, our posture is stretched out of the curved inward self-interest to an open love and concern for the community.
Every decision is an opportunity to form our posture—curved or expansive—and shape our character and conscience. What is guiding your decisions today? Your own self-interest? The Spirit of God? Something else? Notice how you are being shaped. I pray our community is taking the shape of the cross.