FREEDOM = FREE

BY:  JAN A. ANTONSSON

JUNE 1, 2014

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The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

 

“Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty where with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1, Wes.).

 

The word freedom means different things to different people.  The dictionary defination is, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”  With the 4th of July right around the corner, we in America know that our fore fathers wanted out from under the yoke of bondage placed on them by King George of England.  The slaves chopping cotton in the South wanted to be free from the whips and chains of the plantation owners.  Women seeking the vote wanted to be free from the Leviticus type bondage which kept women under the thumb of either their fathers or their husbands.

 

If we go back to the beginning of the quest by God’s children for freedom, we find ourselves in the land of Egypt, under the lash of Pharaoh’s overseers, compelled to make bricks for the greedy king’s many monuments to his own greatness and glory.  Now, that was something to behold, brought to life in the mega movie epic that Cecil B. DeMille created called “The Ten Commandments.”  Over the history of God’s dealing with His children, He has delivered them from slavery, from fiery serpents, from plague and famine, from ego-maniacal monarchs like King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and King Ahasuerus of Persia, who threatened complete annihilation of the Jews.

 

The purpose of this writing today is to glorify the magnificence of our Father in Heaven, who sends us whatever trials and cactus patches we need to mature, while at the same time, He walks with us through every troubling and/or terrifying circumstance in order that we see His power in us and for us.

 

As a child, I read the Bible through every year.  It came to me recently that reading the Bible from cover to cover might be a good idea.  I entered into the assignment not as a “thou shalt,”  but as a way to reconnect with “the big picture” of God’s dealing with His children, which after all, is a good description of the Bible.  It is not a “How To” manual, a set of instructions to ensure we gain God’s favor, or a map to find the way to Heaven.  It is the record of how God dealt with His creation and His children from the beginning.

 

Genesis is always a good read, except, of course, for the “begats,” which can be a little tedious.  Exodus is exciting and thrilling, scary and sacred.  Then, there’s Leviticus, which graphically describes the onerous burden of living by Law.  God had shown Himself as a loving parent who helped the Israelites escape Pharaoh’s wrath, but once they crossed the Red Sea, they soon forgot how bad it was for them in Egypt and began to murmur.  Do you ever murmur?  I do sometimes, and I only dare to do it because the days of God sending fire down from heaven; opening up the earth to swallow sinners; sending fiery serpents, plague, famine, stoning and excommunication upon the disobedient are over.  The Law, Paul said, was nailed to the cross, and in the context of Leviticus, just thinking about it makes me giddy.

 

Under the Law, women were merely there for childbearing and water carrying.   I could tell you the nitty gritty about bodily functions making people unclean, but it’s depressing and also unfair toward women (Yes, I did mention this to God).  It’s OK.  He made me the way I am and gives me the freedom to tell Him how I feel, which is way more than most people will.  But I digress.

 

I was rejoicing in the liberty that God gives us in Christ compared to what it was under Law, when it occurred to me that Christians really should be required to read Leviticus at least once to better appreciate what God has delivered us from.  But then, required reading would whisk us back into Law, so that’s out.

 

It seems that the human model has built into it the need to be right, to have correct doctrine, politics, and especially in our relationships, the need to help each other to stay in the “straight and narrow,” or as one friend said, to “spur each other to righteousness.” 

 

Reading the Old Testament shows how ridiculous all of that is.  There were no better spurers, preachers, and dare I say, naggers than the prophets of old.  They scolded, threatened, called down fire from heaven, raised the dead, healed the sick and confronted kings and queens to show God’s authority.  Yet, for all the good it did, they may as well have stayed home and watched T.V.

 

Maybe this is just my neurotic stuff and no one else suffers from the compulsion to show that I’m right about whatever I believe.  If that’s true, then consider this as my confession of personal sin, because I have been known to correct people’s theology.  To those people who may have been the recipient of my well meaning but misguided ministrations, I ask for forgiveness.  God has helped me to “get over myself,” as another friend describes it.

 

Recently, an old friend and I had lunch together. We’ve skirted around spiritual issues before, but never explored them.  She’s attended many different churches and so has a broader experiential view of the belief systems out there than I do.  In the course of the conversation, she told me she believes in “free moral agency,” and asked me if I do.  When I told her no, she looked shocked.

 

Then she told me that she would live her life the way she is living it (a good moral person) whether she read the Bible or not.  She indicated that to her, the book has no authority to tell her what to do.  That shocked me a bit.

 

But it was a good shock, because it made me realize that God has delivered, is delivering, and will continuously deliver me from the need to be right along with it’s evil twin, the compulsion to correct what other’s believe.

 

That God is able to deliver us is a VERY pleasant realization.  Paul said it better than I ever could:  “Further yet, we ourselves had held and continued having, within ourselves, the result and effect from a decision of the Death (or: from a judgment which meant death; or: the considered decision and insightful response in regard to death) – to the end that we may not exist being ones having put trust and confidence upon ourselves, but to the contrary, upon the God Who is continually (habitually; repeatedly; or: presently) awakening and raising up the dead ones! He Who snatched (dragged so as to rescue) us from out of the midst of the very prime (or: peak) of Death (or: out of a death of such proportions) will also drag us to Himself – into Whom we have placed our hope and expectation so as to yet rely that He also will Himself still drag us further toward Himself”  (II Cor. 1:9-10, Jonathan Mitchell). 

 

We have freedom in Christ, not to sin or ignore the principals we hold dear, but to soar in the heavenlies with our elder brother and our Father.  If the Old Testament teaches us anything, it is that obedience, respect, and reverence for God cannot be coerced by threats of punishment, no matter how horrific it is.  And by the way, according to Isaiah, all the punishments of God in the Old Testament were for this earth: “For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9).  None of them extended past the grave.  The proof of that is that Moses appeared with Christ and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

 

As you may recall, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he struck the rock at Meribah to bring forth water for the thirsty, grumbling children of Israel.  He had been told to speak to the rock (Num. 20:5-13).  So, for that transgression, God only allowed him to view the Promised Land from atop Mount Nebo, where he died (Deut. 34: 1-6).

 

Father we fall on our faces before you in worship and praise that You have delivered us from this present evil age, and all the things in it which distress and worry us.  Return our focus to Your glory, Father, that we may be one with You, and know that nothing on this earth, beneath the earth, or above the earth can separate us from Your unconditional love and perfect control of our lives. Remind us when we forget it, that  “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”   Alleluja and amen.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREEDOM = FREE [Jan A. Antonsson] 06-01-14          3

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