It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
This is the first verse in this new challenge of trying to memorize a verse a (week)day. What a way to start! I chose this verse because one of my biggest problems is that it is very easy for me to turn God into some sort of legalistic ritual. I make God a religion of my own. I take the beautiful gift of grace that gives us peace and freedom and make it something it is not. Essentially, I am confining the unimaginable God into some type of box that my feeble mind can understand.
I try to make Him who knows no bounds into something that has boundaries. Most of all, I take this gift of grace that he has lavished on us for granted. Jesus paid it all. He said it was finished. Yet daily, my sinful mind and self try to turn this free gift into something I have to earn. Do you ever do that? Have you done that before?
Why do I/we try to take the gift of freedom, this priceless gift, and turn it into something we think we have to earn or “buy” by good works or deeds? It is amazing to me how easy it is to fall into that type of thinking. It is easy to slide down that slippery slope. And the next thing that happens is that I find myself burdened with the shackles of sin and trying to be good enough. I become like the Pharisees with all of their rules and laws.
I start feeling down on myself because I didn’t pray a certain way. Or I didn’t pray long enough. Or I didn’t pray for all these different things. Or I didn’t do something I thought I was supposed to. I didn’t say something I was supposed to, and then I try to make up for my disobedience. When I do that, I don’t do it with a joyful heart or servant’s attitude, I do instead out of fear trying to get God back on my side.
I start getting burdened with my own guilt of not being good enough. I don’t live up to my expectations of what I think I should be. I start thinking of God in some type of dictator fashion where he starts looking at me with utter disdain. Just shaking his head the whole time.
Yet, God is never like that. He instead sees the beautiful sacrifice of His Son Jesus when He sees me. He looks at me with joy because He truly sees His Son. The One who took the full force of His wrath. Behind that, because of Christ, I can call Him Father and He has made me an heir. He has chosen me for “adoption to sonship” (Ephesians 1:5).
It is so beautiful and so wonderful to be free from the law. The law that points out our wrongs yet was needed so that we can see just how much Christ has set us free from. Freedom is such an amazing word. A word we take for granted. What amazes me though is that when I am burdened with trying to live up to what I think God wants me to be, I don’t feel God. I definitely don’t feel that peace or rest or freedom. I feel so burdened, so weighed down, so far from God that it is unbearable. I can feel myself not connected to the ultimate Source of life. The Source of satisfaction. All because I am trying to find satisfaction in the “mud pie’s” (nod to C.S. Lewis) of this earth. I am reverting to my sin nature that I think I have to do this or that, yet the ultimate satisfaction is in resting in God. Obedience to His call. Open to His will.
I mean, some of the greatest feelings we have is when we are truly still and just before God in His presence where there is fullness of joy. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV). All too often I do not live in the land of grace where there is freedom. I live by my rules and my ways. Yet as I read this verse, as I remember it, what a sweet reminder of keeping my eyes on God and never making Him or prayer or Scripture or anything something that it is not. But just enjoy the sweet gift of the freedom found in Christ. It is so important that Paul decides to mention it twice in one simple yet profound sentence. It was for freedom, our freedom, that Christ set us free by being nailed to that very cross.
This verse can be applied and dissected in a 100 different ways, but one more thing I want to mention is that we are free from the law, free from worry, free from anxiety, free from sin, free from death, free from being an enemy of God, free from the wrath of God. We are free to have hope in the future. Free to believe that even amidst all the suffering there is good. God has a plan. God is working it all out for good and we can look toward heaven. Thank you God for Your freedom!