If you a real fan you can't support two teams in the same competition because sooner or later your loyalty will be divided. Even during this weekends 0-0 draw you would have been forced to cheer for one side not the other. You can't be happy with an Arsenal win if you're a Chelsea supporter. You can't be happy with a Chelsea win if you're an Arsenal supporter. One or the other. Not both. Obviously.

I was struck by this little verse from Paul's letter to the Galatians this morning:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)

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It starts with a sobering question that only gives two possible answers. It is an either/or question. I can either please people or please God. But not both. One or the other. 

It seems a bit harsh. A bit exclusive. But it makes total sense. Because the humanity that Paul is talking about is in rebellion against God. By nature people have an agenda totally different to their creator's. They want self-rule not his rule. They want self-love not love for God and neighbour. You can't try to please people and please God. 

As Paul puts it at the end of the verse: "If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." I can only have one master.

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This division is only getting starker in the UK as our culture becomes increasingly hostile to a Christian worldview. It's not a comfortable experience. I like to please people, because I want people to like me. I'd rather that they didn't think that I was a fundamentalist, bigoted nutter. I don't mind them thinking that I'm different, but in an "upstanding member of the community with a few odd ideas" sort of way.

But the Bible doesn't allow me to do that. It forces me to face the fact that I cannot seek to please people and Jesus. So it has to be Jesus. Because he is the one who commands me to love people. To be gracious and considerate to people. To do good to those inside and outside the church. He is the Lord who calls me to love my enemy and pray for those who persecute me. That means that seeking to please Jesus is the best thing for the people around me anyway!

And because Christ has demonstrated his love for me by dying for me whilst I still had no intention or desire of pleasing him whatsoever, I know that he will never leave me or forsake me, however half-hearted and self-centred my efforts to please him are.

Secure in a love like that I'm freed to support Preston North End!

 

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