freedom stories – (insert your name here)

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1, 4-5

What a terrifying day it must have been when Jesus seemed to have disappeared! Even more terrifying was when he started visiting people!! It should be a little terrifying, even today. Rising from the dead. Miracles that we cannot explain. Death and darkness defeated. It is something we dream about for this world. Suffering gone. Hurt gone. Hope restored. And yet Jesus’ brand of freedom can seem like a tough pill to swallow. He calls us to a radical life of giving up our personal brand of freedom and exchanging it for his – one that is powered by his Spirit living in us. When looking at the life of Jesus, who wouldn’t want to have his spirit of compassion, wisdom, truth, justice, love …? Somehow we have subtly shifted the definition of freedom in everyday language to more closely resemble the definition of anarchy: my personal freedom with no interference from authority (anyone else telling me how I should live my life or what is right and what is wrong for me).

My church will be in full celebration mode shortly!! A risen Jesus – a promise that death has no power and that we can share in life because the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us!! Hopelessness has no power. Even when all the world around us seems to shatter to pieces we will not collapse along with it because our hope is built on something that fortifies us with strength! The pressure is off. We don’t have to build our own little governments and come up with all the best ways to live. We have a God whose name is love and rules in justice. All barriers are gone and we are welcome to speak with him face to face with courage. We are forgiven and when we accept that then shame will only ever pass over us like water making its way to the ground. We can live lives of love because we are loved. Yes, this is terrifying!!! It means that we have to give up our ideas of ourselves and what is right. We have to give up our anarchy and submit to an authority that we cannot see with our eyes. Freedom is not what we offer. No human being can fully sum it up or lead you to it. Only God can and his doors are wide open for us to go directly to him for your answers. So here I give you an offering of what I have tested and tried in pursuit of truth and have found strong. I introduce to you Jesus. This conversation is now between you and him (and by the way, he can take your anger, your questions, your disbelief and your hurt! If you need to yell and shout at him, do).

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Galatians 5:13-18

He is risen! (He is risen indeed!)

If you have a freedom story that you would like to share from the past couple of months, I encourage you to comment below and share it. Thank you for taking this journey with me during Lent 2015.

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