For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
A Radical Statement
Let’s begin with a radical statement: In Jesus Christ, you are totally free.
If you hear this kind of statement often enough, you may be tempted to respond, Yeah, sure, I know that.
But do you really? Has it landed on you that you’re free from all sin and condemnation, from the law’s demands and from every satanic lie you’re prone to believe about God, yourself and others? Are you going throughout your week with a fresh sense of liberty that has entirely re-defined your character, your schedule, your relationships and, most importantly, your worship? No? Well, think through Galatians 5:1 with me for a minute.
Speaking to a church that was toying with the idea of officially adding works of the law to the Gospel of grace, Paul is saying that God has offered us His very best in Christ—true, invincible freedom. And, astoundingly, there’s no catch. “The catch” landed on the crucified Jesus instead of us, for He was made “sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). Therefore, we add nothing to His all-sufficient work. We only receive it by faith. For freedom we are set free.
Empty Hands, Full Hearts
But we have a problem with that, don’t we? It sounds too easy—even scandalous! It would make us feel better if we could help Jesus out a little bit. After all, not contributing feels wrong.
Such was the attitude among the Galatian church, and it so easily becomes our attitude as well.
But if the Gospel is true—and it’s too good not to be!—it’s high time we get over ourselves. We’ve got a vice grip on our self-righteousness and it needs to be mercifully broken.
So let’s empty our hands. Drop the pride. Drop the envy. Drop the pity parties. Drop the merit badges. Drop the whole “I can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done” routine. Drop the chronic busyness. Drop the overbearing parenting. Drop the bitterness. Drop the self-medicating. Drop the workaholism. Drop the people-pleasing. Drop the anger. Drop the porn use. Whatever it is, just drop it for cryin’ out loud! Quit holding on to what gives you a false sense of identity. Let it all go—your fake comfort, pleasure, approval and self-satisfaction—and watch it fall, shattering into a million pieces upon the Rock of Ages.
Until we’ve allowed our hands to become empty—until we’ve abandoned every attempt at self-salvation—our hearts will never be filled with a sense of the freedom that is rightfully ours in Christ. We’ll continue with that unbearable yoke of slavery on our shoulders. We’ll keep paying homage at the altar of that bloodsucking false god. Our functional saviors will keep demanding more and more until we crumble beneath the weight of their crushing burdens. We’ll continue to contradict the Gospel.
LifePoint, we must stop settling for anything less than God’s glorious Good News. Our worship depends on it. So let’s decide once for all to stand firm. Right now. Let’s stop living like slaves and start living like sons. Let’s stop thinking of God as an unrelentingly displeased taskmaster, and start praising Him as our loving Liberator. Let’s stop viewing the church with skepticism, keeping those around us at arms length because we’re afraid of being hurt. We need a Spiritual family. Sure, opening yourself up to others can be risky, but there’s no other way to flourish in freedom as a worshiper of God.
Simply put, we need to joyfully embrace the radical, scandalous implications of the Gospel. It’s the only way we will ever experience the fullness of what Christ won for us on the cross. So as we gather this Sunday, I wonder, will the sound of idols shattering be heard among us? Will we empty our hands so that we can lift them in faith? Will we let go of all that keeps us from receiving from God? Will we enjoy His grace together as a family?
I pray we will say yes to freedom.
Liturgy for Sunday, October 18, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 147:1-5
Benediction: based on Colossians 1:10