Friday, June 30, 2017
You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! Galatians 5:7-8(NLT)
Paul wrote to folks he loved, who had started their journey with Jesus by grace, in faith, trusting God for their forgiveness. But some false teachers came in behind Paul and were leading them to believe that, by being good, they would keep themselves saved. And so they slipped into taking credit for their own salvation.
Paul wrote as if he were beside himself. His friends had chosen the bondage of the law; you know how that is: do this…don’t do that….and, for heaven’s sake especially don’t do the other…keep this, get rid of that…burn this, sacrifice that…wear your hair like so…dresses must be…men sit here, children over there…and on, and on, and on…rules without end, amen!
On the other side of the ledger from law is freedom. The short version is, trust God and be thankful to him and gracious towards all. In other words, be forgiven and then live like you’ve been given a gift of freedom.
It must have been a slow day at the grocery store. The young girl at the checkout counter rang up our several items while carrying on a conversation with three other employees who were gathered around her station. They were talking about this coming weekend. One said: I like lots of holidays, but the 4th is my favorite; lots of fireworks and flags…so pretty…I just love patriotic stuff.
My immediate thought was that at Christmas she probably loves the trees, tinsel, and gifts all wrapped-up with hardly a thought to the incarnation of the Savior of the world. Then I had to repent for having unkind thoughts about someone I’d never even met.
But the conversation did stir those thoughts in my mind that Fourth of July celebrations can be all about the celebration – parties, cookouts, beach trips and sparklers. The problem with it all is that, if we’re not thoughtfully-careful, we can wind up celebrating the celebration, and not being renewed in our commitment to live-into the freedom purchased by the bloody sacrifice of our ancestors. We can love and honor the idea of freedom more than actually living free.
Living free has little to do with sparklers and grilling-out, even if the cook wears a stars and stripes apron. This is exactly the point Paul was making to the Galatian believers. They had all the trappings of religion – circumcision, feast days, and lots of rules; they had little left of the true freedom purchased by the cross.
We also can slip into making our freedom a possession rather than a lifestyle of gratitude to Almighty God. And when we do that we have fallen from the very grace that saves us.
Christ gave his perfect life on the cross so we could be forgiven, redeemed and set right with God. That is a gift of freedom I will not take lightly!