Freedom – Jan. 15th, 2019

What holds us down…

The very moment that we break free from our restraints and begin to soar, is the point at which we often realize just what holding us down, to begin with.

Considering what messages abound today it fairly easy to see why people become confused about just what faith and trust in Christ Jesus result in. One voice may spell out impending persecution, while another the promise of hope, still, yet another may expound on benefits now and reward in the everlasting. Voices that shout out there is healing to be had and riches to be secured. Voices that tell us that this is a struggle and not to expect anything short of opposition and conflict.

When the Lord took the bold step to form man, there was a conscious decision that humanity would be crafted in such a way as to have the freedom to choose. Along with those choices, just as our parents likely told us, are consequences.

Consequences tend to be a word that sends a shade of grief across our thoughts. Consequence seems to always suggest punishment, but really consequence relates better to process than outcome.

Virtually everything we experience in this life is temporary and what lay beyond is so much more than what we can see or imagine. We are afforded glimpses of what lay ahead both now and in eternity, but our ability to both view and understand that which we observe ahead is clouded and poorly defined to us.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)

We have only so much clarity of who we are in perspective to our existence. That image Paul describes as being similar to viewing our reflection in a mirror. Considering the technology and manufacturing methods at the time a mirror was quite often a piece of shiny metal polished to a point of reflecting images back to the subject in the mirror. But because of this, there was always the factors of hazing caused by dirt, and the marring of the surface over time, so while a mirror might reflect back a rough likeness of the subject, the detail of the image was not sufficient to convey the specifics.

This led to forcing you to rely on conjecture based on what you were able to observe in the mirror. That mirror might project enhancement or degradation when compared to the actual subject. In the least of it, it was an imperfect representation.

Paul’s telling us that is the best we get right now. We only get an idea of what is ahead. We only see some of what God sees in us. While we have firm understanding of the outcome, we have a little definition of the process that intervenes.

This condition places before us two dynamically opposed approaches to our walk. One involving constant speculation and readjustment of what we anticipate ahead, while the other relies completely on faith and trust in the Lord’s provision and grace, to guide and prepare us for each phase of the journey.

Perhaps this is why the Lord picked faith to be the catalyst for salvation alone.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift

Ephesians 2:8 (CSB)

Grace is the vehicle of our salvation, only grace. We don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, we can’t purchase it, we are unable to justify the benefit of it for ourselves. We are simply awarded this gift as a result of faith in what Jesus has said, what he’s done for us, and what he’s committed to providing for us.

Thinking back to what we talked about consequence and relating that to ‘faith’ we see that our faith is the determinative catalyst for the process (the way we proceed) by which we journey through this existence.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 (CSB)

I’m going to suggest that all of the voices that I mentioned at the beginning are accurate to an extent. The problem with those voices is that they are only as well defined as that dim image in the mirror that Paul spoke of.

All of them are potentially part of the process and can be part of our journey to the ultimate destination we are progressing towards.

Faith determines the process, but more importantly, faith shapes the very way that we traverse the events in our journey as well.

The simplest example of this is joy.

Joy isn’t something that is a result of our conditions and consequences. Joy is the product of our faith in God being who he is and doing what he says he will do. Joy can and will give us happiness, but happiness can’t give us joy. Faith does that.

“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”

John 15:11 (CSB)

Faith in what Jesus says here leads not just to some fragment of joy, but ‘complete joy’. This joy is beyond the comprehension of the world. It makes no sense whatsoever to that exist outside of grace.

Faith is the catalyst to our persecution as well.

Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

John 15:20 (CSB)

Consequences pointing to the process: We have faith in Jesus, follow Jesus, be his disciple, and the world will see Jesus in us. Because the world hates him, it will hate us. It’s part of the journey, and yet, we have joy despite the persecution and trials that will ultimately come our way as a consequence of our faith.

All those voices we talked about are not clearly defining what the situation is now, or what will be looking ahead. They are but a glimpse in that smoky mirror.

But faith, it is the key to our freedom in Christ Jesus.

Let me repeat this again so you don’t have to go back and recall it.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 (CSB)

If you continue in my word”; if you have faith in what I’m saying to you, Jesus tells us, “you really are my disciples.” The ‘consequence of this faith is that “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Free because of the persistent joy that is also the result of faith. Free because each and every consequence is one step closer to our ultimate destination. Free because we don’t have to struggle in doubt and fear, wondering and plotting our course because we have the guidance of the one who gave himself for us that we might have an everlasting relationship with him now and forever.

True freedom isn’t won. True freedom isn’t protected by an assortment of rules and laws. True freedom isn’t anything we can purchase or provide for another. And the only way we truly can ‘exercise our freedom’ is to do so through faith. Faith in the Lord who chose to give us the freedom to choose to return the love he has for us, back to him.

In His Grace,

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