Freedom for freedom's sake

Considering freedom on this Veterans' Day....

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  -Galatians 5:1

Why are we more comfortable with rules than we are with relationship? Maybe it's because the rules are quantifiable - I know whether I've made the grade. Maybe it's because they give me a sense that I'm master of my own destiny - I got what I earned and I earned what I got, I'm not a charity case. Small problem - I'm not capable of making a passing grade but I don't really want what I've earned as a result. Thinking back on Chris' story from last week (, the thing that got him wrapped around the axle was an inability to keep the set of religious rules he believed were required to set him right with God. He isn't alone in that. It's been happening for centuries. 

Christ did not give us a set of rules to stay in God's good graces after saving us, any more than He gave us a set of rules to keep in order to be saved. "Here, I got you all cleaned up - let's see if you can stay that way!" No, if I could "be good", I wouldn't need a savior in the first place. 

In Christ, we have absolute freedom. Freedom from the penalty of sin (forgiveness), freedom from the fear of death (eternal life), freedom from the power of sin (ever-increasing Christ-likeness as I abide in Him), and freedom from religious rule-keeping. To hold onto a self-justifying set of rules is to deny the sufficiency of Christ's redemptive work. It trades freedom for slavery. It is not what Christ set us free for.

OK, great - no rules. How should I behave then? 

For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision (religious rule-keeping) nor uncircumcision (ignoring the religious rules) has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  -Galatians 5:5-6

One of my foxhole brothers put it this way: "I can enjoy as much freedom as my faith will allow." Little faith, little freedom. Big faith, big freedom. When I am convinced I am unconditionally loved by God, I am not obligated to win His favor by my performance. When I am convinced I am unconditionally loved by God, I have the desire to stay close to Him, not to avoid Him. Staying close to Him, it's only natural that I will adopt His perspective and learn His ways. Right living will flow out as a result. I can love because I am loved. I can be generous because I am a son of the King whose resources are endless. I can drop my expectations that anyone else will validate me or fulfill my needs, because I only expect that from my Father.

That's the conversation we had this Friday in my foxhole. Discussions like that are not unusual for us. We read. We exchange ideas. We challenge one another to walk these things out in our families, neighborhoods, and places of business. We pray for other guys who need to be part of this. We convoy each other so that each of us can convoy what God has entrusted to our care. 

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  -Galatians 5:25

Upcoming: We're at the Lodge this Friday (Nov16), for a follow-up challenge to Chris' story. November has five Fridays, but one of them is the day after Thanksgiving, so it will be up to each foxhole to sort out what you're doing on Nov23 and Nov30.
In the meantime - be free!

Scott Thompson