“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love constrains us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died…that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:13-15)
As the Church, we sure are claiming a lot of “liberties” and “freedoms” these days that were once not a part of our lives in Christ. If these “freedoms” are refused or even challenged by other Followers, they are called legalistic and judgmental. I am writing these words in the same nation we all live in and a part of the same “grace” we all live in as a result of the work of the Cross. I can empathize with these possibilities and wholeheartedly take on the very same “freedoms” many are taking on…but I am constrained not to!
I have lived way too many years of my Christian life in duty and required performance so getting free is not only appealing, it is worth running to! Unfortunately, these “freedoms” and “liberties” we are running to, all in the name of grace…are really indulgences we have wanted to do along the way but could not do in fear of what others will say….disproving our loyalty to Christ. Finally, we think we get adult enough to not be concerned with what others think and then we are able to indulge. The indulgences are not gross…they are simply selfish! Our “liberties” is no longer about Christ, they are about self!
Again, know this…I am writing with the same compulsions and desires as everyone else that feels the “pull” from our society and especially with the state of the Church being so crumbled toward the fear and love of God. There is so much to offer us freedom from a boring life as a Follower of Christ. Most Believers, deep in their hearts have not experienced abundance as a child of God and now have to become “free” in other ways! When I walked in my own “freedoms”, there were no constraints. I felt I could do whatever I wanted within reason…as if there were no fence lines any longer. I called it grace. But what fell off was my passion for others to know Christ…the reason I was left here in this earth. I had “freedom” but I had no real purpose or ministry left!
God has stripped me of all legalism and judgmental mentality towards others…I have been humbled and broken by way of trials and my own doing. This isn’t about alcohol or going to a newer style church…it’s about people. As a child of God, I have one things left to do on this earth and that is to bring the Good News of Christ to my family, friends, nation and other nations! My life as a Believer is not about this world, it’s about a future and a hope.
You would be amazed at how much freedom comes from investing yourself in another person in discipleship. We so underestimate the power of discipleship! If you engage in it, you will seem to gain hours back in your day. You will have things occur that you have longed for and never saw while sitting in a pew for all those years. The state of the Church here is in bankruptcy! Oh, there is a remnant that is faithful but by in large, we are calling ourselves free…without any constraints, causing the Church to loose it’s shine to the world. This isn’t me judging anyone at all…I’ve just been there and God, for some reason, by His grace, has seen fit to call me to a deeper cause and purpose. I do not deserve such attention from a Holy God!
“Discipleship isn’t about making a home in this world, it’s about preparing for another!” Chris Tiegreen
A disciplined and constrained life is not legalistic at all. It’s more freeing than any other way. It surpasses the buzz of alcohol. It causes me to be grateful for all the people that are coming to worship as I have to drive and park 1/2 mile from the buildings and walk 25 min. in the freezing cold. My eyes are on my neighbors to reach with the Gospel. I get excited when I am able to share with others and encourage people as they hammer out who Christ is.
I have always had a concern for the Church in our nation because we have no “purifier” that causes us to be the real thing…such as persecution or extreme poverty, sic hour waiting lines for bread and water, etc. Today, I am constrained by the love of Christ to be more than free to do whatever I want…I am constrained and disciplined in order that I might be the only Jesus a person might meet in their lifetime, able to extend the grace of God in freedom for the cause of Christ. I have’t always been in this place, even as a Pastor for 15 years…I have not been constrained in such freedom as I am today! I am not boasting…I am overwhelmed and humbled that God would call me to this place!
Marriages are breaking apart because of “freedom”. The Church is indulging itself in “freedoms”in the name of grace. There is no discipleship, getting our hands dirty in order to reach into others lives…even our own families and close friends…because we are thinking we are entitled to freedoms and “things” have become our life rather than people! This life is not about things…it’s about people!
I know full well, this Blog will not change a thing. It is still the work of the Holy Spirit of God that causes change…when it collides with a childlike faith of needing God more than “freedom”. All these “freedoms” we want are just fruit from a deeper issue…we are medicating ourselves with them, hoping to numb out the emptiness caused by not being constrained by and completing that which we were made for!