“You have an odd concept of freedom,” my friend said.
Odd? It was the definition I grew up with –freedom is the ability to choose to obey.
“Can you disobey?” he asked.
“Not without suffering rejection and other dire consequences,” I answered.
“You have an odd concept of freedom,” he said.
Freedom, like grace, was a concept I struggled with during my much-delayed adolescence (that took me well into my forties). It took me a while to figure out that I had accepted mixed messages without question.
Mixed messages are crazy-making.
I just read a recipe that defines mixed message for me. It calls for a bowl full of lovely, fresh, healthy vegetables, sunflower seeds and green grapes. To this collection of organic goodness you add 1/2 a pound of diced fried bacon, eight ounces of grated cheese, and a salad dressing that crams the maximum number of calories possible in the form of fats and sugar into a measuring cup. Healthy with a death wish.
Some people who talk about grace will welcome you into their church and tell you that you cannot earn God’s love and that salvation is a free gift, that Jesus paid it all. They will point out the verses that say the purpose of the law was to demonstrate, like an impossible-to-please teacher who never gave out perfect marks, that you were never quite good enough. You could never obey all the rules perfectly, no matter how hard you tried. But now you are free; you are saved by grace through faith.
That’s it. They welcome you to the fold.
Then they remind you to pick up a copy of the new rules on the way out.
The new rules are book length and some of the pages written in ink so faint you need special secret decoder ring and spy glasses to read them. And guess who has the decoder ring and spy glasses?
Mixed messages are crazy-making. They’re like a green salad that will give you a myocardial infarction before you get to the gluten-free zucchini muffins.
Grace is not sin-consciousness; Grace is Saviour-consciousness. Grace is not about your failure; it’s about Jesus Christ’s success. Grace is not about who you were; it’s about who God sees you as.
And freedom? Freedom is permission to run toward that destiny – person you are becoming in Christ, unencumbered by fear of making mistakes, and being secure in the knowledge that you are cherished by the One who holds his arms open wide.
You are precious in his sight. He absolutely adores you, you know.
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