For Freedom

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

For freedom. It is so easy to reduce the miracle of salvation down to "I believe in God, and he will save me from hell." Yes, true, but there is so much in our salvation that can be applied NOW. We are free from hell, free from the bondage of sin, but even more: we are also free from empty religion, legalism, and fear-based behavioral modification.

I who live in Christ am no longer trapped into a cycle where my salvation, my future, my hope, my eternity, depends on me. Because guess what? I am sort of terrible. I struggle, I am short-minded, easily frustrated, easily stressed, and I quickly fall into a cycle where I feel like if I'm not being a good "Christian" that God does not love me in that moment.

This is what we are free from. Our salvation was accomplished by Jesus on the cross, and to live in that we only have to accept it and love Him. He has done all of the work and there is nothing we can add. This verse calls us to stand firm in that truth, and even further, not submit again to yoke of slavery.

In the scriptures, Paul was writing to the churches in Galatia who were struggling with the gospel message and beginning to revert it back to something it was never meant to be. One of the big perversions of the gospel Paul was trying to correct was that we must complete some sort of spiritual discipline or follow the law to be saved. Paul is so well-spoken on this topic since he lived it; he admits himself that before he knew Christ he was so zealous to defend the law that he actual broke it!  

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made. (Galatians 3:19a)

The law, the sacrificial system that required so much of man in an effort to reach God, is gone. Once faith is put into Jesus Christ and his righteousness, the weight of the law has no hold over us! Our right standing with God will not change or flicker based on our current state or failures to be "good enough." 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

I let this verse comfort me whenever I fall back into the cycle of "I'm not good enough." No, I am not "good" enough, and by nature I never can be. However, Jesus is good enough. He has gone through everything I could ever face, and did it sinlessly so his righteousness could be imparted to me. This is where the freedom comes; it's a freedom that leads to rest in His goodness, His strength, His perfect nature shared with us who were so undeserving. 

For freedom, we have been set free. 

Like a Child

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)

Think of a child: hopelessly dependent, unable to survive on their own, fully looking up to parents or guardians for every need. Children also approach the world with a sense of wonder we lose as we grow, a gleefulness that we crowd out with responsibilities and burdens. When we approach God with this same attitude, we will see Him as the provider of everything and simply delight in his care for us. He is our good Father, loving us in spite of ourselves. When we run to him like a child, happy and carefree and fully trusting, our relationship and faith will grow in the humility and awe Jesus calls us to. 

Daily Bread

Two things I ask of you:
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and said "Who is the Lord?"
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:7-9)

I know personally, when everything is going my way, when I am just killing it at work and my home life is stellar and my worship is rocking and we are not worried by a bill (or even, treating ourselves because I stayed on budget), it can feel like "I did this, because I was so good." We need to be mindful of pride when things are good, because it is very easy to fall into believing we are responsible for our own successes and can do everything on our own. At the other end of the spectrum, we also pray to not have too little, to not fall into the trap of self-pity or despair that comes with both actual and spiritual poverty, thus not trusting God in our low points. The writer of Proverbs spoke to this balance, as well as Jesus when he was teaching the disciples to pray with "Give us this day our daily bread." Looking at this, I have tried in my own prayers to stop asking for everything I want, but begging for just enough to continue serving Him and praising Him, while never forgetting that every blessing I have is through Him and not my own strength. 

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)

Work / Heart

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)

In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul has a very clear mandate for how we should conduct ourselves while at work. We are to approach our daily tasks as if we were working directly for the Lord, but this does not mean we should constantly feel the pressure of such a lofty calling! Working for the Lord frees us from trying to constantly please others, while shifting our focus back to a standard of excellence that will permeate everything we do. Whatever our job, task, ministry, hobby, relationship... we are called to give it our best, and the rewards are eternal. Serve Him joyfully, and watch even your most dreaded and bothersome tasks (laundry, anyone?) gather meaning as you show your love for the Lord simply by giving it your all. 

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.