Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stifled within the walls

Because of the Cross...these words speak volumes.  Have you ever stopped long enough to really take an inventory of the many things the Cross of Christ has changed in your life?  When you do, you will find the list starts out with really "big" stuff - when you think a little longer, you will find the list begins to encompass some of the things we probably take for granted each day.  The blessings are countless!

14-15I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! 
(Galations 6:14-15 The Message)

When we "boast" about something, we are "bragging up" the object of our affection.  We are directing our attention and effort toward the object we boast the most about.  If the boasting we do is about ourselves, we might get a clear indication of the lack of impact of the Cross on areas of our lives where we likely need its impact the most!  

Paul's main emphasis in writing this letter to the Christian believers in Galatia is to bring about a revelation of the actual and total freedom of the Cross of Christ within our lives.  By the Cross, we have been set free from the "stifling" atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns they dictate.  If you have ever walked into an outbuilding in the heat of the Arizona sun, you have probably experienced the "stifling" effect of "pent up" heat and dry air.  It almost takes your breath away.

Guess what?  Living by the rules / patterns which others "dictate" in our lives is like breathing in the stagnant, dust-filled, wickedly hot air of the shed!  In much the same way as we'd come into the outbuilding, we "enter into" the bondage of the "smallness" of the confinement these rules / patterns produce within us.  We may enter a little timidly, but once inside, we begin to be overcome by the "smallness" of the walls as we experience the "stifling effect" of the requirements of being conformed to that which pleases others.

We have seen it put forth in many ways in this letter to Galatia - freedom is for enjoying, not for making us more burdened down under weights we cannot possibly carry!  As much as we'd like to, we cannot make ourselves "right" in the eyes of everyone who wants to influence our lives.  In fact, we become quite frustrated in even trying.  The greatest experience of freedom is in "submission" to the work of the Cross - nothing else.

God is at work in us - creating something totally (not partially) new!  What he declares "free" we should never allow to enter again into the "stifling" bondage of the littleness of man's expectations, standards, or rules.  Indeed, we should make every effort to avoid the "outbuildings" others want to confine us within!  

The list of the impact of the Cross in our lives can be as large as we allow it to be - how?  The list of freedoms we enjoy increases each time we say "no" to the urgency others place on things or patterns which will only keep us, or bring us again into bondage.  May God's list of freedoms you enjoy be ever-increasing in your life!