Friday, August 5, 2016
For what have we been set free. . .
We were created to act as God acts. God designed us not to compete with Him or to displace Him but for us to find our fulfillment and our purpose in Him. When we refused this freedom as bondage, we encountered a real bondage in the form of captivity to our wills and desires set loose from God and His kingdom and the consequent death that was the fruit of license that paraded itself as true liberty. Ever since the Fall, man has struggled with desires in conflict with God's will and his own conscience. Left with guilt, man has either covered up his own rebellion or justified his rejection of God's freedom. In the end the grave remained to claim the illusion of freedom from the grasp of mankind.
In baptism, St. Paul insists that we are not our own, we were bought with a price, we belong to the Lord. In other words, we have finally the freedom for which we were designed. We are made anew to act as God acts and this begins with wills and desires that learn repentance, that confess the false freedom that was mere illusion and the sins that such false liberty bore, and that trust not in themselves but in Him who died and rose for them. We are made to act as God acts and this begins with wills that learn to trust the Lord, to be content in His Word and promise, and who learn to delight in His holy will (the commandments and the third use of that Law).
We are free not to pursue our own path but to walk in the steps of Jesus the path of the godly to God, in the strength and righteousness of Him who loved us to death upon the cross and who raised us from our living death to true, abundant, and eternal life. This is the what we struggle with. Our hearts and prone to distort this freedom still and turn Christian life into a constant battle with desires ultimately to be gods without God or at least equal to Him. But it is only in the life, will, and love of God that we find home, purpose, and future. It is only in the life, will, and love of God that freedom is free and we are free.
He died for all that those who live should not live for themselves but for Him. Not to jealously control those for whom He died but Christ died and rose to restore to us what we exchanged for bondage and to place us again upon the path that sin detoured to dead end. We are made and are daily being made to act as God acts, to will God's will and purpose, and to love as God has first loved us. This is what I struggle within my own fearful and prideful heart. On the one hand I fear that this is not freedom at all (sin still lives within me) and on the other hand I am not ready to admit that my way is a dead end and that only God's way has a future (sin still lives within me). Daily we wrestle with this under the power of the Spirit who teaches, encourages, leads, and guides us into this true liberty and righteous freedom -- to act as God acts, to love as God loves, and to will what God wills. It is this that we pray when we say, Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief...