Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Of Our Fathers Whose Almighty Hand"1 (Lyrics)
1 Peter 2:16a – Live as free people. (NIV 2011)
As our pandemic lingers, people naturally yearn for former freedoms — including public worship. Mixed feelings abound over such matters. Restless tension grows between restraints and freedoms. As in any polarized situation, we can easily find ourselves sucked into the spiraling vortex of emotional reactivity. Be careful, for that's bondage in itself! It's a lockdown of our minds. It robs our thoughts of a better freedom: our one guaranteed freedom unique to God's children. It's God-given, so no one can rob us of it — if indeed we've been set free by the Son!
John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV 2011)
Romans 8:2 – Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (NIV 2011)
Ephesians 3:12 – In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (NIV 2011)
Did you notice here two sides of Christ's freedom? There's freedom from something and freedom for something. Of course, no constitutional right can provide or guarantee either. Only God can!
The thrilling wonder of this freedom reminds me of a yearly springtime event on our family farm: Liberation Day for our cows. This was their freedom from confining stalls, their freedom to roam expansive pastures. As always, their behaviour was predictable: The instant their nostrils sensed the spring air, the animals broke into exuberant sprints and leaps. They became wildly intoxicated with freedom and fresh air.
Such vivid emotional responses seem over the top for Christians. But why? For we're granted a far grander freedom. Perhaps we've never experienced Christ's freedom, or we've lost its value, or we've become dependant on lesser freedoms — including our religious freedoms.
Here's a question: Would it not be within God's nature to use COVID-19 for our benefit — to expose our hearts? We must face ourselves, asking, "Which freedom grips my thoughts most, through these trials? Is this making me more Christ-centered or more self-absorbed? Am I growing more in the fruits of the Spirit or in the fruits of pride and discontent? How responsible am I with my God-given freedom — to live in it fully and to guard it from the suffocating bondage of fruitless longings?"
Galatians 5:13a – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. (NIV 2011)
1 Peter 2:16 – Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. (NIV 2011)
My friends, in these days, you and I must each decide which freedom matters most, because that's the freedom that we will pursue above all others.
Prayer: Lord, work within our hearts to demolish our idolatrous dependencies on lesser freedoms, that we may freely love and serve You as Your fully liberated servants. Amen.