Our sermon today is about capturing the flags of mission, vision, and values in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul plays the defensive role of protecting the core mission, vision, and values. He gives the people an opportunity to live out the values. Paul opens up the offensive game by presenting to the people what their part is to do (love God and neighbor and not be selfish). This is the part of the Gospel that has some freedom of expression. We have lots of freedom to love our neighbors and Paul teaches us what that looks like.
Have you ever played “Capture the Flag” with your friends in the backyard? The idea is that there is a flag in two locations with two teams. There are two flags and two teams. Each team tries to capture the other teams flag while defending their own flag. So you have to play both offensively and defensively. Capture the flag is a great game with strategy and energy! You cannot be single-minded in this game or you will get tagged out. Some people on the team must pursue gaining the flag – they must play offensively. Others on the team must defend their team’s flag – they must play defensively. Both offensive and defensive positions are strategically important.
We have two flags here in our sanctuary today. Our national flag and our Christian flag. We call our national flag nicknames like “Old Glory” or the “Star Spangled Banner” but our flag – no matter what you call it – has a place of recognition in all our hearts. Our nation celebrates Flag Day on June 14th.
Our national flag is a symbol of our freedom. Flag day gives us the opportunity to reflect on what freedom means to us. It gives us a chance to count the cost of freedom and rediscover the foundational truths of our victories. Each part of the flag has historical meaning to be sure from the red and white stripes to the number of stars on a patchwork of blue. We make pledges to the flag and we sign the national anthem to our flag. But it’s not the symbol that holds the meaning it is written in our hearts. We hold such high regard for our flag that it is stationed in our sanctuary to remind us of our freedom.
There is also a Christian flag in our sanctuary. White represents peace and purity. Blue means fidelity. Red stands for Christ’s blood sacrifice. We even have a pledge that many churches have recited over the years. The pledge is not unlike our Apostle’s Creed. It helps us to remember what we believe.
The Letter to the Galatians is a kind of flag waving across the pages of Scripture. It triumphs the core theme of our mission, vision, and values as a people. In this letter Paul invited us to understand that there are two teams – one team represents the Law and the other Grace.
Flag 1 – MISSION (Galatians 1.4, 6)
- The Complaint
- There is only One True Gospel of the Cross!
- Re-established the foundational truth that we are no longer under the Law but under the Cross of Grace.
Flag 2 – VISION (Galatians 2.20-21)
- We are saved by faith alone by grace!
- Circumcision, people were spying to see if the Law was being observed.The food laws became prohibitive to sharing meals, communion, and community building.
Flat 3 – VALUES (Galatians 5.14, 22-25)
- Sudden Shift
- We are changed from selfishness to producing the fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
- There seems to be a lurch in the text moving us from relational conversations to the bigger picture. The conversation between the people has created a tension in the gospel message. The Gospel Message has been compromised.
- We have asked ourselves the holiness questions that caused us to remember that Christ is real.
- We have gone deep to reassess the Gospel message, and whether our daily lives are reflecting that message.
- We have prayed… “Lord teach us to pray…”
- We have realized that failure is a part of success, and small wins create new places for us to grow.
- We have lived the loop of conflict, complication, and Good News and we await the unfolding of our decisions.
- We have left a fragrance and rather than odor in our daily walk with our neighbors.
- We have received those who did not profession the Gospel, and called others to a deeper commitment.
- We have believed that God is with us.
- We have support the cause of Christ beyond the walls of our church in personal and corporate mission.
- We have learned what it means to go into the heart of God: God is at work all around us. God invites us into a relationship. God speaks to us. We have a crisis of belief to distinguish whether we will obey God. We adjust to this new reality and we experience God in our midst.
- We have laughed and enjoyed each others company along the way.
Response – 3 Flags over our church
- The Unwritten Story – Prevenient Grace
- The Gospel Encounter – Justifying Grace
- The Unfolding Drama – Sanctifying Grace