Just Because We Can…
September 8, 2012 § 2 Comments
Through the years, if you asked my parents which gift they most regretted buying me, they would respond that it was the watches they giftwrapped. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, for a while my timepiece was enveloped in one of those embarrassingly wide leather bands. However, growing up I lost nearly every watch I had been given. My parents finally wised up and realized that I didn’t like being bound by time, because mysteriously (though not purposely) each watch would disappear.
That isn’t the case now. I wear my watch (also a gift) nearly every waking hour.
I think there is something in all of us that resists constraint. We don’t like being told that something we can or want to do, is forbidden.
But there is no such thing as life without limits. We know this instinctively, though we fight it relentlessly.
We teach this to our toddlers when they are convinced that running fearlessly into the street is safe. We bank on this when a teller receives our personal ID numbers at the bank, and when we type in our PIN number at the grocery store in front of the cashier.
Hey, it will always fly politically to say that a person has the ability to call their own shots, and control their own destinies, even their bodies. But as Christ-followers, this isn’t our metric.
The gospel is.
And the gospel liberates us, not by oppressive, unbiblical restraints often imposed by insecure churches and Christians, but by Jesus, who modeled self-sacrifice.
So we may have the right to trash our enemy, but as Christ-followers, we’re not allowed to.
We may have the power to respond to offense with offense, but Jesus modeled love against His aggressors.
We may have the authority to run our offices with tyrannical indifference, but Jesus demonstrated humility.
We can call our money, our bodies, our lifestyles and our ‘stuff’ our own, but the gospel says that we don’t belong to ourselves.
Paul discovered this in his inability to overcome some nagging sin or malady in his life, only to be told by God that it would be His (God’s) grace that would satisfy, and not Paul’s ability to self-perfect (1 Corinthians12:9).
Paul’s problem is our problem – He hated his own deficiencies and limitations. In his warped version of faith he would be good enough to live independently of God’s grace. And I have learned that my own resistance to human limitation is less about justice and more an angry protest against God, an exercise that always reduces my world to a population of one (me).
And it is exhausting!
Here is the real question: Do you really want to spend an entire lifetime striving to obtain your own independence from God? Because that is what this is really about.
Or will you simply rest and trust Him with who you are, believing that He loves you more than you hate your own limitations and deficiencies, and any other constraint this fallen world brings?
Friends, I don’t want to fight. I want to live. And this means that I need to admit that an unrestrained life doesn’t fill the vacuum – God does. And the wildly crazy thing is that at the moment we acknowledge this, we actually are free!
So my choice is simple: Either I fight for an unrestrained freedom I will never obtain in this lifetime, and wouldn’t enjoy if I did, or I am liberated to rest in the fact that whatever constraints I may have, are swallowed, not by self-destructive permissiveness, or angry defiance, but by the Father’s unrestrained grace.
And liberated from self, I am free to enjoy a much simpler version of myself and enter into the lives of others. How sweet is that?
This is good news.