In and Under Authority, but Absolutely Free
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I have run into people over the years that ask why I chose to follow Christ. They aren't asking because they are curious so much, but because their 'view' of being a 'Christ-follower' means I must be a total 'rule follower'. As such, I must not have a very interesting life because I am 'limited' in what I can do, where I can go, who I can hang around with, and when I can do it. While I like having the 'boundaries' rules establish for my life, do I ever cross those lines? You can rest assured, I am not the best 'rule follower', but I do love Jesus with my whole heart. Do I struggle with the rules at times - yes, and so do you! When we choose to live God's way, we are making a choice to live in a way that reveals a change in the 'ultimate authority' in our lives. We are turning our authority to live as we want over to him. Does he allow us to go fishing on Sunday? Yes, and he even helps us enjoy the day with good weather and perhaps a catch or two. Does he allow us to hang out with others who don't know him like we do? Yes, and he even asks us to be a light in their world. Does he sometimes ask me to refrain from doing something in the timing I'd like to do it in? Yes, but I also know his timing has proven to be much better than mine anyway. So, I am not 'limited' by my choice to follow Jesus - in fact, my life is better than it ever was apart from being in relationship with him!
What happens when we live God's way? A pretty pointed question is posed for us today - because it starts with this change in the 'ultimate authority' over our lives. It is us choosing to allow God to be that authority and I mean a daily, moment-by-moment choosing. We don't make that choice one day back in 1972 when our lives were pretty much falling apart, but we make that choice each and every day to walk under his authority. Yes, there was a day when we felt this exchange of 'leadership' over our lives was necessary, but it is also a daily choice to remain under that leadership. You know what one of the most telling signs of his authority in my life was? The ability to make loyal commitments - no longer feeling like I had nothing to offer in relationship - feeling like I had to 'force myself' upon others to get them to like me. Now, that may seem a little bit awkward to admit, but I actually was a very insecure individual, constantly feeling like I had to impress, stand out, be the class clown, getting attention anyway I could. When God took over the authority of my life, I realized something different going on deep within my emotions. I began to 'settle into' the way God had made me. I began to realize there was no longer any need to be 'insecure' because I was magnificent exactly the way he made me.
God's way of living is in 'liberty', not bondage. What is competition? Isn't it by its very nature a sense of having to be in 'bondage' to some end goal? It is a contest to come out on top all of the time. If we are always trying to be the king of the hill, we forget what it is like to just be content to be playing the game! I didn't run to compete any longer - I ran because I enjoyed the burst of energy as I made my way down the track. I didn't create works of art because I wanted to be noticed - I created because I had ideas and they needed an outlet of expression. I didn't talk to be noticed - I shared because I genuinely cared to hear another's ideas, too. God's way of living is being free to be exactly who God has created us to be, not some artificial or 'bound' expression of ourselves. God's plan for you and I is that we live free - in him, under his authority, but there is no better place to actually experience total freedom! Just sayin!