Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Religion teaches our bondage is to sin, Jesus teaches our bondage is to religion.
Safety only comes at the cost of freedom. Last week we honored those that fought for our freedom while forsaking safety all together. This week many are willing to forego freedom in order to be safe though more accurately what we’re hearing are folks willing to forfeit the actual safety and freedom of others in order to keep themselves from improbable or even imagined danger. Greatness and cowardice both use the word sacrifice, the later is willing to sacrifice others, the former knows that’s not sacrifice at all and is disposed to offer themselves first. Let’s choose greatness.
Jesus doesn’t promise us safety, He offers us freedom.
Liberty that’s not shared is not liberty at all!
Gospel means Good News. The Gospel of Jesus or Jesus’ Good News is that He is God and that He loves you! We who know and understand this are asked to share this message with no strings attached. Unfortunately too often what is heard from us is “god loves me and he would love you too if you were like me.” This is not the Gospel. People are desperate to know they are loved and the world is persistently presenting overwhelming evidence that they’re not. We have to be different; we must present the truth of God’s unconditional love, not just in word but also in action.
Freedom is scary; in fact it’s so frightening most of us choose to remain imprisoned. Rather than join God in the moment and trust Him with our future we cling to what’s familiar and what we believe we control even when it’s painful and unhealthy. Freedom is more than available, it’s God’s desire and we are presented with the opportunity to choose it constantly. So instead of entertaining the same old thoughts, living according to other’s opinions and staying in our well worn rut; take a chance! Follow your heart, live and love in the now!
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and quite frankly this year more than any other it has me very anxious. I’m just beginning to understand that the reason for my anxiety is the obligation that’s attached. The expectations are completely external yet so effective they couldn’t be more personal. So here’s my question: Can love and obligation peacefully coexist? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The key word here for me is peacefully, as that’s certainly not what I’ve been experiencing which causes me to think the answer is probably no. Bound is an important element of understanding obligation. And freedom is a huge part of my understanding of love. I know we are “bound together…” but also “love knows no bounds” all that to say, I’d love to hear your take on this question along with any thoughts you have on this “holiday”.
Ideally I want every day to be a gift to those I love and maybe I’m just feeling resentment that others are telling me when I need to step it up.
Recently I was rereading a favorite novel written by James A. Michener in 1949 called “The Fires of Spring”. I’ve been troubled by the following passage since:
“… She sat still and intent. Suddenly her right arm shot out quicker than David’s eye could follow. She had caught a fly. Methodically she ripped off its wings and placed the flightless creature upon her barren table. Then, with a finger of spit, she drew a wide circle about the dismembered fly. Composed and calm, she watched the fly as it stumbled about the table top. As long as the fly stayed within its circle, which was ample, the mad woman followed it patiently, with her great eyes rolling this way or that. But when the fly once touched the forbidden line, the old woman’s face clouded in anger. Then she raised her right hand and with a brutal spatulate finger crushed the fly.
Then, like a spider, she waited until another fly came into her ken. Flashingly she would snatch it from the air. Wingless the fly would wander across the surface of his restricted world. It was free until it transgressed the line. Then the horrible forefinger ended all feeble wanderings.”
The reason this disturbs me is it’s such a clear description of what we’ve been taught about God. How many times have you been warned to “stay under God’s covering” or “obedience is God’s love language”? Which is another way of saying God loves you when you’re following the rules. You’ve probably learned God has favorites and other forms of blessing theology as well. (If you follow this link please read the 5th post first, then up the page from there.)
In the story we can easily see the woman is mad yet somehow we accept this same behavior from God because He can do whatever He wants. Jesus tells us, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Let that sink in for a minute. Is He letting Phillip know what he’s been taught is all wrong? Did Christ ever treat anyone like the fly? I guess He did get angry one time in the temple but wasn’t that anger directed at those who were profiting from folks being taught to obey or else?
Jesus came to prove God’s love for you, to show you no matter who you are or what you do, His love doesn’t change. He wants you to know Him, really know Him and it breaks His heart when we picture Him anything like the lady in the story. The truth is God gave us wings and all of creation to enjoy and explore. Please don’t let others remove your wings because of their need for control.
The best things in life are people and the best people are free, truly free. Too often, especially in religious circles (now there’s an interesting term) we become folks who have traded one set of chains for another. We try to conform to other’s ideas of who we should be, how we should act and what we should think at the expense of being real, being ourselves. How can we realize God’s unique love for us when we’re following the crowd?
Can’t be found in a paycheck, a fence, a wall, a gun, an army or anything else we come up with ourselves. True security only comes from a keen understanding of how deeply God loves you, how personal and unique that love is and knowing His love will never change, never leave or even waiver.
The world needs more people giving us something to think about and less people telling us what to think.
If love is the answer (and it certainly is) then trust is the vital result. To put it simply, knowing that you are truly loved births the ability to trust God regardless of the circumstances surrounding you. Love begets trust which leads to security bringing peace and freedom while keeping fear, worry, control, distraction and the need to conform at bay.