Holy Asides
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March 11, 2016, 3:44 PM

Embracing Our Freedom

In the last blog, I wrote about our relationship with Jesus as a wilderness adventure with God. This is one of the ways to understand God’s glory and the freedom we have in Christ. Freedom in Christ is something that is very difficult for us. Partly because, when we become Christians, we are called to a new way of life. “Therefore, anyone in Christ is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come.” II Cor. 5:17. We have been released from the bondage of living under a set of rules that were impossible to live fully into keeping. Unfortunately, our response to this freedom is often to create a whole new set of rules and laws. 

For the truth is, we are comfortable with rules and laws. This was the exact problem that Paul encountered with the Galatian church. After discovering the joy of becoming new creations in Christ, the Galatians soon found themselves under the influence of the Judaizers. This group purported that salvation came not through Jesus only, but also through the keeping of the Law of Moses and circumcision. In his letter to the church, Paul writes, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Gal. 3:2b-3. Yet this is a struggle that continues to this day. We receive the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus. We understand that grace, eternal life, and freedom in Christ are unearned gifts from God. But then we set up “laws” in order to “earn” these gifts.  Some of these laws come from our family, some from our denomination, and some from our culture. 

Yesterday, I was wearing my cassock in the beer aisle at Kroger when a man asked me if I was allowed to be on that aisle. His question voiced the law, “Christians should not drink beer,” that has been created partly by churches and partly by culture. But concerning the law, Paul writes later in that same letter, “The entire law can be summed up in a single command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Gal. 5:14. Our dilemma really lies in the reality that “thou shalt not kill, lie, cheat, steal, etc.” is way clearer than “love your neighbor as yourself.” The problem lies in the truth that “loving your neighbor” is not easily quantifiable. How well are we loving? How are we fairing in this new life of freedom? We have no idea if we are truly living as a new creation. So, we create rules: do not drink, do not dance, go to church on Sundays, receive the Sacraments. We think that this marks us as “good Christians.” But, does this not just place us under a new type of law? Do we subconsciously think that we are somehow “earning” what has been freely given to us? 

The question becomes, how do we live a life of freedom that reflects who we are as sons and daughters of the living God? The answer again reflects that wilderness adventure in which we are embarking on a continuous journey of seeking the Spirit’s guidance and direction in our lives. Unlike a prisoner, who is told what they will eat, what they will wear, when they will work, and when they will sleep, we have options in all of these matters. This carries over into our spiritual lives as well. We pray when we are led to pray; we serve those God calls us to serve; we love those God puts into our path. We live a life where, moment by moment, we are able to seek the Spirit of God—to abide in Christ, who has promised to be with us all the days of our lives. This freedom, which is much harder to define and explain than the law, is where true life in Christ is found. Moreover, this is the message of God’s love that the world desperately needs to hear and to know. We have been set free in Jesus, simply because God loves us and longs to journey with us each and every day.

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