But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2: 13 (ESV)

Blood is messy. Having blood drawn can be a bit painful, and it is almost always emotionally uncomfortable. People are designed so that we don’t readily surrender our blood, for it is utterly essential for our bodies to survive. Blood is also one of the greatest gifts that any of us can give to others; so, donating blood is something to seriously consider doing. For us, this sort of thing is a choice to be made, and the ramifications of doing it last for only a very short time. This was not how it was for Jesus. The blood that He gave was eternally precious, and giving it had an effect upon Him that was momentarily devastating. Jesus shed that blood a very long time ago; yet, the impact of its being spilled is very much with us today, and the stain from its taking is apparent in our world still. People have tried to remove it or to cover it over with any number of weak endeavors and beliefs, but Jesus remains present and relevant despite all that we might do.

The amount of blood that Jesus shed, the drops and rivulets of it as it might have pooled near the foot of His cross, is of little consequence. What truly matters is the sacrifice that He made out of obedience to the Father and also of His own free will, for that sacrifice changed forever the way that people can gain access to our Creator and God. The life that Jesus surrendered and the blood that flowed from His wounds was the sufficient sacrifice that paid for all of the sinful disobedience that has separated every person on this earth form God. That painfully extracted blood brought about peace between the Divine Creator and His Creation. This is a peace that infuses our souls with new life, and this peaceful status provides each of us, in Christ, with a purpose for living in the fullest expression of that life.

This world is still filled with agony and strife. The peace that Jesus purchased with the shedding of His blood and sealed with His resurrection from earthly death is suffering through its birth pains. Evil with the brokenness of its chaotic rampage through the world is very real and is present in almost all places and in many forms. Yet, it will not prevail, and its death-giving promises of human power and prosperity are nothing more than a bait and switch artist’s feeble attempts to close a fast sale. Christ’s blood seals His people for a higher purpose. We are here to work diligently for the redemption of our world, and we are to do this by living out our new identity as people who have been set free to love others without reservation and to care for the needs of the people that we encounter with sacrificial generosity. Even in these days of new found fears and trials, Christ’s blood is more than powerful against it all, and He calls to us to draw near to Him and to reach out as He does with love, grace, and mercy to all in our world who are hungry, weary, and fearful. 

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Galatians 4: 9

 

You know, those heavy chains with thick ankle and wrist cuffs that make up the bonds of slavery were never really comfortable or even fashionable. They were a part of my daily wearing apparel for a long time. When I allowed Christ to set me free from the life of servitude to sin that had been my calling from birth, I gave up my need to wear them. He brought me out a perpetual state of weighty oppression and into an eternal one of freedom. Yet there are times when I seem to want to go back. I take on the countenance and the manner of thinking of a slave. These are truly frustrating and even debilitating times.

 

Paul wants me to clearly understand that something profound happened when Christ entered into my life. In that moment I came to know God on a deeply intimate and very real level. Additionally, God took me into His family as a fully known child and a completely vested heir to all of the love, truth, and glory of His kingdom. There is nothing that I do not possess that is needful in this life. There is no reason for me to want to go back to living in my old life. All of what is right and righteous has become mine, and all knowledge and wisdom that is useful for living well is knowable by me.

 

Christ has truly set me free from the old, worldly way of navigating through life. When I find myself confused, disturbed, and disoriented, there is wisdom available to me that will guide me to clarity. During the times when doubt enters into my spirit with its cloud of self-defeating claims about my worth and capability, Christ speaks up to assert His claim to my soul and to proclaim my worthiness. There is simply no rational reason for me to return to old sinful patterns of thinking. There is no longer any need for me to seek comfort in my former methods of coping with life. The chains of that life of slavery have been broken beyond repair by Christ. I am free from their hold upon me, and I can claim that victory and follow God’s wisdom as a free person through all of my days.

 

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2: 1

 

Evil has a purpose in its mind that relates to every person who is alive. The plan for accomplishing that purpose is well conceived and is fully operational. As it goes, Satan casts doubt into our paths so that we stop living with the confidence and in the joy of our calling in Christ. He also tries to bring us to a place in our hearts and minds where we are continually struggling against the truths of God’s word and with our own new, redeemed natures. This is a battle that sucks the energy out of us.

 

Perhaps the most powerful of all of God’s attributes; thus, His gifts to us, is His grace. It is this remarkable, unending, and total outpouring of the Father’s love that purposes to take the painful poison of sin out of our hearts. Grace sets us free from the oppression of guilt, fear, and the resulting separation from God. We don’t earn it, can’t buy it, and won’t ever use up its favor. We can’t control grace, we just need to accept it, and God gives it more willingly than anyone else ever gave anything to anybody. Although the price was immense for God, His grace is totally free to us.

 

Living in the center of the glorious truth that we are free from the tyranny of sin’s hold on our hearts is both freeing and mightily empowering. So, Christ calls each of us to realize that the voices that keep pointing out our weaknesses and our failings are speaking words that are coming from the throat of a defeated enemy. Instead, we can always turn to the truths that the Lord has given to each of His children and allow His Spirit to fill us with the strength that flows out of Christ’s loving grace.

 

 

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5: 1

Consider, why is freedom such a big deal to most people? What is there about freedom that is so incredibly attractive, and how is it that most of us don’t perceive that we have as much of it as we would desire? Most of us are free to decide what we are going to do with our time, our resources, and our lives. We are free to go where we want to go, to do the kind of work that we want to do, and to be with the people that we want to be around. There are very few rules or regulations that tell us what we must do or be. We have made and continue to make choices for ourselves. Still, we feel bound, constrained, and powerless. Many of us feel like we have been swept away by a powerful current so that life is sustained only as long as I can keep my head above the water and off of the rocks.

Living like this is not what God intends for us. He wants us to have a clear understanding of what freedom means to Him and for us. From the moment that our ancestors surrendered their free access to God’s presence to the empty appeal of evil, God has had a plan in place for the return of freedom to everyone who accepts it. God gave us the gift of freedom in the sacrifice of Jesus; yet, it is up to each of us to fully accept the gift, to open the package, to live in it’s grace and embrace it’s empowerment.

Freedom is the ability to love others without concern for their response. Freedom is focusing our concern on the needs of other people and not worrying about what we will get in return. Freedom is openness, honesty, compassion, vulnerability. Freedom is taking comfort and finding peace and satisfaction in Christ’s new way of living while refusing to live as we have in the past. The portrait of freedom for us is found in Jesus, and the image of freedom for those around us can be found through Christ in us.

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

2 Corinthians 3: 17

 

Freedom is one of humanity’s greatest quests. We all seek to be free from something, and most people continue to seek various forms of freedom throughout our lives. For some, there is never enough of it; yet, for others, almost any of it is too much to handle. Freedom is slippery for it may just slide right out of our hands. It is also elusive in that it can hide behind the smallest of obstacles just as it seemed to be within reach. One of the hardest realities to face is the fact that much of our imprisonment is caused by our own actions. We are too often the jailer who locks himself in the cell and then tosses the keys out of the window.

 

In our striving there is only one freedom that matters above all else. It is the one form of freedom that impacts every other aspect of life. For once our souls are free; we can not be locked away again. After our hearts are delivered from their naturally born states of enslavement to sin, our minds are turned loose to consider blue sky dreams and days of endless possibility. Christ comes to dwell with and in each of us when we surrender to His call and accept Him as Lord of our lives. His Spirit will not accept and can not be bound up and held down by the chains of sin that constrain people who do not know Him. With the Spirit present in us, any hours and days of confinement that we experience are the result of the tenacious nature of our old selves and its refusal to die easily and are impacted by Satan’s continued attempts to pull those that he has lost back into his dungeon of control.

 

Unfortunately, this struggle is something that almost all of us will be engaged in for the rest of our lives. Life in Christ involves a continual process of confession of our sin,   accepting God’s grace and forgiveness, repentance and turning away from our old selves. Yet, in this process, Christ’s Spirit is working in us and against the evil that is attempting to ensnare our hearts and minds. Once we are His, Christ will not let go. The Spirit dwelling within all who know Christ does grant each of us freedom. He brings to us the freedom that we truly need; the freedom of our souls, and this sets our hearts and our minds free to breathe the pure air of victory over sin.