It’s no coincidence that this is July 4th and I just started studying Galatians 5 which starts out saying It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. An oxymoron for many who think being a person of faith shackles you, not sets you free.
Paul writes to the people of Galatia because there were some folks in the church who were distorting the gospel, the good news of Jesus. They, the agitators, were telling the church that if they truly wanted to be a Christ follower they would have to be circumcised and eat certain foods, just like the Jews had done for centuries.
Paul was explicit in his reply that this was not the case and these people were trying to confuse the true gospel message: Jesus rescued us from the law because the law had gotten out of hand, added to by the Pharisees and was completely unattainable. God recognized this and sent his One and Only to die for us. That’s called grace.
We aren’t much different today are we? Oh, it may not be that our men must be circumcised or that we must eat certain foods but we have our list of things that we think we have to check off to be considered good enough to be good Jesus chicks. Having a daily quiet time. Praying for 15 or 30 minutes every day. No cussing. No smoking. Be kind. Do this but don’t do that. It’s an endless list really. And is upside down grace.
Jesus died not because of anything good I did (or now do.) He died because I can never do enough to be good enough. He died because he saw the shackles of shame, sin and the severity of a law that I could never live by…no matter how hard I try. That’s the Grace of salvation.
There is such freedom in grace. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from having to try hard to be good enough. Freedom from trying to be something I’m not. Freedom to let you be you and me be me. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom from the agitators who are still trying to distort the gospel message today.
I can stand firm in that freedom and not let myself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
I am called to be free. But to not use my freedom to indulge in a sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
For some reason I was reading in the book of Job the other day. I mean, who does that? It’s quite depressing in many ways: Job is a great and godly guy who loses everything, including his family, except for his wife who, along with three of Job’s friends, are vying for the prestigious how-can-we-make-Job-feel-worse-about-himself award.
Job’s buddies were having a back and forth with him about why this was happening and what he had done to provoke God when in chapter 38 it says, Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.
Oh man. ‘Cause you know it’s coming.
God proceeds to ask Job a very long series of questions (four long chapters worth!) that can ONLY be answered in the most humble way, You did LORD.
This one question made me smile and resonated with my wild and free heart:
Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. (Job 39:5-8)
God saw the donkey harnessed to a cart, pulling a load he did not want to pull and set him free.
You did, Lord.
God saw this wild donkey of a woman harnessed to sin and shame, carrying a load she wasn’t meant to carry, full of legalism and distortion and he set her free.
You did that, LORD!
I am forever thankful and forever free. I can laugh at Satan, the driver of my former cart because I don’t have to listen to his shouts any more!
Happy Independence Day my wild and free donkey friends!!
Fiercely for YOU!