Sunday, July 1, 2012

freed for freedom: Part One

inspiration: FREEDOM!

this morning, my roommate Ashley and I visited our friend Deana's church: City Church of Charleston. it was a completely different environment than we're used to, but i think we both agreed that it was different in a good way. it was much smaller and intimate and the presence of the Holy Spirit was ever-present. there were people speaking in tongues and worshiping more openly than what we're used to at Seacoast. but it was an awesome experience!

i know for me, it was a good way to experience a different type of worship and a way to experience something outside of my comfort zone. it's definitely a great opportunity to learn to worship God in a different way! :)

but the sermon was powerful.
this week, we will celebrate the 4th of July - a day where we celebrate the freedom we have as Americans ("MERRRR-CA!" - forgive the redneck outburst ;)). but we should live like every day is the 4th of July in the spiritual sense: because we have access to freedom that is unparalleled to the freedom we have in Christ!

One of the most powerful verses that we can relate to our freedom is Galatians 5:1
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.
for me, when i hear the term "slavery", i immediately think of the african american slave trade. people being taken captive against their will and toiling in less-than-ideal conditions, often abused and mistreated. i think of how miserable it must have been for them. i also think of human trafficking and sex slavery, women being taken hostage and sold into prostitution. both are gruesome and graphic portrayals of slavery.

but when we look at in the spiritual sense, we are all slaves to sin.
we may not be in physical chains.
but i think we can all think of an area of our lives where we feel like we're bonded.

we allow addiction.
and worry.
and anger.
and abuse.
and unforgiveness.
and stress to control our lives.

we wear heavy chains of burden.
but Christ wants us to be made free in Him.
He paid the ultimate price so that we can be set free.
for us, there are no strings attached, we can't do anything to buy our freedom. we can't increase or decrease His love for us.

but, how often do we fall back into old habits?
how often do we allow addition. and worry. and anger to continue to plague our lives because we are afraid of what living in true freedom could mean.

Pastor John shared the story of the Israelites. they had been enslaved for 400 years. and God led them out of Egypt in order to enter the Promised Land. but what did they do? they complained.
they wandered. for 40 years.
they wanted to return to the life they knew.
God had provided for them manna and quail and had protected them.
they feared what lied ahead for them.
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?(E) Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” -Numbers 14:1-4
of course, we know the ultimate end of the story: Christ died for us. to redeem a people who rejected Him and turned to sin. we didn't deserve it. but God loves us so much that He had a better plan for us. He doesn't want us to be weighed down by the burden of our sin - He wants us to experience true freedom.

but how often are we like the Israelites?
complaining rather than walking in freedom.
suffering rather than rejoicing.

i know for me, my chains are worry.
i worry about the future.
i worry about what people think of me.
i worry about doing wrong things.

but Pastor John put it in a good way.
Christianity isn't about reducing our lives to a checklist of things we can't do.
Christianity isn't meant to be contained in a sandbox of rules and regulations.
it is very true that we are not to abuse our freedom. we are to obey God's laws and commands.
but we are to embrace the freedom we have in Christ. our lives are no longer defined by our past.
our lives are defined by the new creation God has made us.

so lets break these chains and live truly in the freedom Christ has given us!
tomorrow, i will be continuing this thought with another blog...... :) 

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