Freedom for $1000, Alex. - Galatians - page 161
I know that I'm supposed to be writing on the beginning of Romans...but I got hung up with my pants pocket on the doorknob of Galatians. It is a verse that I can't get enough of.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” – Galatians 5:1
It seems a little redundant, I know. But repetition aids learning as they say, and there’s hardly a truth that needs to be learned and lived more. People have lists of reasons for why Christ came and died. When I hear some of them, I can’t help but beg to differ. He didn’t come to just die for my sins; he came to release me from their talons. He didn’t just die so that I could go to heaven; he died so that I could get there with some quality of life. He wasn’t just born to die, he was born to free. That was the point of his death, the liberation of mankind.
I love telling people about freedom in Christ. It is in those conversations that I actually feel like I’m sharing good news. The kind of news that is convincing and compelling. The kind of news you’re not embarrassed to pass along.
For a good many years, I found myself sheepish to share my faith. It seemed like an invitation to be incarcerated for some reason. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone in their right mind would want to strap any more restrictions, rules, regulations or requirements on their already burdened back. It felt like a bait and switch. You tell someone that Christ will release them from their burdens and when they take the bait you set the hook and drag them into the boat with the rest of the paranoid pack of believers living under heaps of stifling stipulations. I remember starting conversations with the disclaimer, “I know what you’ve heard, but I’m here to tell you a different story.” Man, does the world need to hear a different story.
Jesus was a hero for the oppressed living under the tyranny of lawyers--men memorizing lists of laws to keep people in line. Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the religious-right binding heavy burdens upon people’s backs without so much as lifting a finger to help them find relief. He spent the better part of his life reversing the curse of “condemnation” theology. His message was “redemption” theology, God breaking into prisons and setting the captives free. And when he set them free, they were free indeed!
I never want people to be able to use my life as an argument for reserved, restrained Christianity. Any interpretation of God that leaves people tight and tentative, spooked with fear that their next step could anger the sleeping giant in the sky, does not see God rightly. He has our best interests at heart and lives to usher in the freedom that we ignorantly forfeited in the Garden of Eden. The first words spoken to man by God seem fitting as I wrap us this mini commentary. “You are free.” And when we used that freedom to imprison ourselves, our God sent his Son to get it back for us.
As foolish as it grammatically sounds, he set us free so that we would actually be free. There’s no catch. There’s no hitch. There’s no bait and switch. I know…it seems too good to be true. Welcome to freedom, my friend.