Skip to main content

Not just barely free

I have to admit - at times I keep score. Not so much in your life, but in mine. I keep score of the things I do that are right steps toward a healthier lifestyle. I keep score of the steps I take in a day by wearing a smart watch. These are pretty 'harmless' things to keep score of in our lives, but when we start to 'keep score' of times we fail to take the right steps, we are doing just the opposite of what Christ does on our behalf. God doesn't 'chalk one up' on our 'account of misdeeds' just because we make a bad choice. We don't earn merits and demerits in some 'heavenly accounting system'. Prayer, going to church, reading our Bible - good actions, but they don't 'even out' the score when we do dumb stuff! In fact, it isn't about evening out any score - it is about all the demerits going away because God only sees the side of us that reflects the 'merits' of Christ!

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

The good news we are looking at today is this idea of living more than 'just barely free'. I once read the story of how the circus trained the large elephants to 'stay' where they were supposed to stay. At first, they drove long stakes into the ground and secured the back leg of the elephant to the stake with a length of chain. It allowed the elephant to maneuver just so much, then it would feel the tug to not go any further. In time, the more the elephant got used to the 'distance' they could go while secured to the chain, the less the elephant resisted or pulled against the chain. As time went on, the chains became unnecessary because the elephant learned the 'distance' he was allowed to maneuver and he stayed put.

I kind of look at God's plan for our lives as kind of 'restrictive' at first. As new Christians, we look at all the 'rules' it seems we are supposed to live by - some 'rules' such as go to church, read your Bible, have a 'quiet time' with Jesus every day aren't particularly onerous 'rules' per se, but then there are the ones we struggle with a little bit more that present a little bit of a 'tug' that 'restricts' us somewhat. They kind of rub us the wrong way at first. I could elaborate on a lot of those things people consider God's 'rules', but I will just look at a couple to make this point. 

The 'rule' to turn the other cheek comes to mind - one that is harder to do in the moment when all we want to do is defend ourselves or retaliate. Why are we told to turn the other cheek? It represents the grace of God - when least deserved, totally unearned, grace is given. The 'rule' to 'forgive seventy times seven' is not just designed to 'keep the peace' in relationship. It is exemplary of the unconditional love of God. These are more than 'rules' - at first, they are like the 'chain' that holds the elephant - harder for us than we might like it to be. The more we allow those 'rules' to guide our actions, the less we notice there is even a 'rule' being kept. It becomes our way of life. 

We don't live 'bound' in Christ, even when we find ourselves 'keeping the rules'. We have learned the value of remaining within the 'boundaries' set by those 'rules'. The distance we can go without getting outside of those rules isn't what matters, it is that we remain securely in the place of safety those 'rules' create for us. The elephant doesn't notice he is no longer chained - he just enjoys being safe where he is placed and lives to the fullest right where he stands. Maybe we need to take a lesson from the elephant today - live more than 'just barely free' constantly chafing against the 'rules' - learn to appreciate those rules are just there for our safety and provision. Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce

Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean