My last blog was titled Living Surrendered and I highlighted that we need to emulate Jesus, the servant King, who died to His own rights and surrendered His will to the will of His Father. No easy feat that's for sure! But the more we surrender to God, the more we will notice a sense of peace and contentment and less amounts of worry, stress and anxiety.
Which brings me to the topic of this month's blog- Living Free.
Over this COVID year, I have been both astounded and dismayed at the many Christians that have succumb to fear, anxiety and panic and have believed the pervading narrative that has been designed to cripple the population into un -questioned and unnecessary submission. Many have no clue their freedoms are actually rights and not privileges and are willing to allow the government to strip them of such freedoms. I would go so far as to say that both fear and selfishness of people has been manipulated by those in power, with devastating results. Instead of behaving as a whole nation, strict border closures and draconian lockdowns have caused disunity in Australia and heartlessness to the plights of countless others. It seems people are only interested in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe and through this selfishness, are blind to see the catastrophic consequences that are unfolding before our eyes. I've heard Christians getting upset with someone else at the shops whom they think was standing too close to them! Really? If you are that fearful, perhaps you shouldn't be going out at all. That is no way to live and reeks of both fear and selfishness. My husband bumped into old friends of ours a couple of months ago at a coffee shop and like the natural response to someone you haven't seen in ages, went to give him a hug. The man literally jumped back like Tony was toxic and said, "You can't do that." Tony, obviously shocked by his over reaction then went to extend his hand. Again, the man recoiled and said "Stop, you will get us both in trouble." What!! ?? For the precious few of us who won't be hoodwinked by the ridiculous notion that touching others outside your family could cause the spread of the virus when you are completely well (and that's actually killed fewer people than the flu this year although you won't hear that fact on mainstream media), I still hear a 'sorry' or some other lame excuse to justify the human contact (Pftt- What.Nonsense).
Who would have thought the events we've seen this year would ever happen?
It seems C.S.Lewis prophesised it (in part) nearly 80 years ago.
In his book The Screwtape Letters, Lewis's literary genius has produced a frighteningly accurate picture of what happens when Christians allow Satan to influence them in such a way as to lose faith in God, behave in a way unbecoming to a Christian and basically be bound by Satan's lies and schemes and hence the theme of this blog- not living free.
It's completely understandable that non Christians behave in the ways I have described. They don't have a relationship with God, who is all loving, all knowing, all powerful and who now holds their life His very hands. No Christian need fear any disease or death. No Christian should be selfish but endeavour to think of others as well. While I recognise we have those in our communities that need to have extra cautions and protections surrounding them (the vulnerable, the elderly, the unwell), the actions we have seen are disproportionate to the risks to the majority of the population.
However, I don't want to dedicate all my word count to the virus. My hope instead is that I encourage my readers to live in the way God has designed for us to live- FREE.
We are saved by God's grace. His grace is a free gift that cannot be earned but that was bought by the precious blood of Jesus.
The book of Galatians is essentially a book on living in freedom. Like the Galatians, who had replaced their freedom in Christ for legalism (rules), Paul was urging them, pleading with them to stop living in bondage. The Judaizers had convinced the church in Galatia that they needed to be circumcised in order to be true followers. This was of course a lie, but these converts had been listening to the Jewish leaders while Paul was away and had replaced the gospel of grace with a false gospel of legalism. In his commentary of this NT book, Wiersbe states,
'Paul's freedom in Christ was a threat to those who found safety in conformity.' How true for today as well. It's easier to go with the crowd than stand against it.
Romans 12:2 says "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.."
What does living free mean?
Living free means living by the same grace you were saved by. Living by grace means liberty, not bondage:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty for which Christ has set us free and not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1-2)
Living free means depending on the Holy Spirit, not the flesh (the world):
"You have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another." (Gal. 5:13)
Living free means living for others, not for self:
"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ....and let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Gal.6:2 & 9)
Living free means living for the glory of God, not for man's approval:
"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." (Gal.6:14)
The 4 points outlined above simply show us what living free should look like for a Christian- joyous, selfless, godly and truthful.
Let me be clear. God is not the author of confusion but of peace. God does not desire His children live in fear. Fear is not from or of God. It's from the evil one, the enemy of our souls who "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."(1 Peter 5:8)
"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, of power and a sound mind." ( 2 Tim. 1:7)
Did you notice that both the Romans 12 scripture and this one from 2 Timothy clearly outline the importance of the state of the mind ?
I can't help but observe that people seem to have completely lost their mind, or are not using their mind at all or very rarely at best. Many have allowed the powers that reside to think for them instead. Or perhaps people have chosen to listen to the lies of the Enemy rather than meditate and commit to memory God's words of life and freedom as seen in His Word.
"The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
Christians are told not to worry either.
"Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Perhaps those Christians who have found themselves fearful, panicked and anxious this year might find comfort in memorising the scriptures from 2 Tim.1:7, John 10:10 and Matt. 11:28,29. Maybe a study on the book of Galatians might help. If you enjoy reading and are not easily offended or insulted, have a look at Lewis's The ScrewTape Letters. It is a particularly enlightening read. The book highlights that all Christians can be tempted, can be weak and can be prone to fall from the traps of the enemy. I found myself laughing one minute and crying the next at my own foolishness and worldliness but overwhelmed by the knowledge of how much God loves us all, despite of ourselves.
But most importantly, draw close to the Lord. Rely on Him to take care of you and your loved ones. Take courage in reaching out to others in need. And please, use the mind God has given you to think soberly and sensibly about what is going on around us and make the decision to not get caught up in fear and panic.
Bless you x