Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3: 17

Freedom is not always easy to accept, and living in its fullest expression is even more challenging for most people. The challenge of freedom might be found, in part, in the fact that everyone is born into its opposite state. That is, we all come into this world enslaved to sin and owned by Satan. That is hard to envision when a baby is new born, but after a few months and certainly by the age of two or so, the self-centered and often uncontrollably angry person that is inside the cute beauty of the baby begins to demonstrate itself in mighty outbursts and unceasing demands for her or his way. As adults we care for and love these little ones regardless of how they might be acting, and in time, they mature and learn to control and to moderate their expressions of want and need. They also grow into people who can give love and provide guidance to others who are not as far along in their developmental journey.

The Lord does much the same sort of thing with us. We are born sinners, and we stay in that state of deadness and remain separated from God’s full presence until we relent to Christ’s unceasing pursuit of us and surrender our being to Him. When this happens, something far greater than simple membership is given to us, for we are not just granted access to an eternal existence with Christ in Heaven, great as that gift is, in fact, but we are also given the gift of the presence of the Spirit within us from that moment of acceptance onward. We are set free from that state of enslavement to Satan that was our form of being from birth. However, most of us are challenged by what it actually means to live in the complete and total expression of that freedom. It is a state of being that we do not know how to enjoy and that we are not yet mature enough in Christ to grasp onto and to live out in all aspects of our lives.

That is where the presence of the Spirit within us becomes especially important, for He provides love, care, support, guidance, and discipline to our still formative new selves in Christ. The Spirit takes us into God’s Word and provides us with understanding of its meaning and with the wisdom to apply those truths to the situations and circumstances that we encounter in life. The Spirit provides us with a form of strength that is deeper and more durable than anything that we have been able to develop on our own, and He also brings the power of eternity to bear upon the obstacles and challenges that we face as we seek to follow Christ’s calling for us. Over time we are grown up and matured by the Spirit in our ability to dwell more and more fully in the way of Christ. This growth process is accelerated as we yield to the Spirit and surrender ourselves ever more fully to His work within us. So, as we become ever more Christ-like in the ways that we think, speak, and act, we gain freedom, and freedom finds its expression in an increase in our faith in the working of Christ is our world and in the expressions of the presence of the Spirit through the full exercise of the spiritual gifts that we have been given by God. 

Advertisements

You are the salt of the earth…

You are the light of the world.

A city on a hill can not be hidden.

Matthew 5:13a, 14

 

Here it is in simple, everyday terms. Christians are to be the people who make the critical difference in our world. We bring preservation into it by living as Christ in the here and now. We provide the flavor to this life by demonstrating that Christ is the only way to sure and lasting peace and joy. Jesus is telling us that we are to be active doers of the will of God in every corner of our world. Christ wants Christians to bring His special combination of preservation and flavor enhancement into the world around us; and He sends us out to share the truth about the restoration of the soul, mind, and body that comes only through knowing Jesus.

 

We are also told to be willing to let the light that comes from the Lord shine in our world, for He does not want us to be quiet about who we are and why we are that way. God wants His people to share the ways that Christ takes us to that higher place where we are in the presence of God in this life; He wants us to tell about how we are now living in a heavenly palace of God’s grace, mercy, and love even as we are in the middle of the destruction and the decay that fill this world. The Lord wants us to shout out with an unrestrained voice about the life sustaining reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

We are to be beacons of light that call people out of the cold, the darkness, and the death of a life lived without Christ. We are told to let His brightness shine out from us like that city on the hill; then, the light will lead people to the presence of Christ and His Spirit will provide those whose hearts are open and willing with the truth of salvation. Then we are to continue to live as Christ in this world in the community of faith that is His body so that our personal grain of flavor and our intense but singular point of light will be supported by that multitude of others. Together we can create a beacon of light that is so intense and so welcoming that no one can avoid noticing it.

 

And it came about that when Christ had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.

Luke 24: 30, 31

 

This is an amazing scene where Jesus has joined with His followers after they saw Him crucified and buried, and He has walked with a couple of them while teaching them. Now, Christ has joined them for an evening meal. Still they don’t realize who they are with. Although I don’t believe that anything actually happens to the bread or the wine that we use in our memorial celebrations of Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, there should be something rather mystical about it. Whenever we participate in this event that many in the church call Communion, the Holy Spirit is present with and among us, and we should be taking the time and opening our hearts to reflect on who Christ is and on what He means to me at this time.

 

Like the bread and the wine, Christ sustains my body and He satisfies my thirst. He does this by providing the most basic things that I need and by inviting me to join Him in the daily banquet feast of His Spirit. His word shows me who He is and how that has been true from the beginning of time, and Christ shows me who I truly am and what that reality means. He opens my heart to the love that He has for me, and Christ breaks down my defenses and takes away my fears so that I can open my arms in love to embrace the people that are in my world. The Lord continually reminds me of the person that I have become due to the redemptive work of His grace and the transformative work of His Spirit. This new person is free to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin with all who would join in and worship the God who saves.

 

As I taste this simple bread and pour the drink into my mouth, there is truly something magical happening, for this is a time when Christ’s presence is profound. He is at the center of the room and in the depths of my heart, and the Lord speaks the breath of His peace, joy, and understanding into me. Christ tells me to open my eyes and see, and He says to open my ears and hear; for, He is always with me to fill me with all that I need and to sustain my soul throughout the day.