Finding True Freedom In Jesus
I graduated from a small, Baptist church high school in 1986. My class had 17 kids in it, most of whom came from families who either attended fundamentalist Baptist churches or who wanted their kids to have a strict, Christian education.
In order for us to graduate, our school imposed a requirement that we all attend a Bill Gothard seminar. Bill Gothard was the founder of the Institute for Basic Life Principles. His organization was in the news recently because it was a favorite of the Duggar family--from the TV show 19 Kids and Counting.
Bill Gothard advocated for a citadel approach to Christian living--particularly focused on sexual purity. His idea was to build barriers made of rules, regulations and checklists of what Christians weren't supposed to do. A lot of people bought into this. A lot of people still buy into this.
Gothard was later discovered to have sexually harassed and abused possibly hundreds of young women. Their stories and the stories of many of the people wounded by his organization can be found on the website Recovering Grace.
Creating bunkers to hide in from "the world" negates the freedom that we have in Christ, and also walls both us and our children in with people who may not have the best intentions. In the same way, giving in to every whim, desire and pleasure creates a prison of it's own.
Thomas Merton once wrote, "...no man who simply eats and drinks whenever he feels like eating and drinking, who smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, who gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person."
So what do we do?
The Apostle Paul gives us direction in his letter to the Galatians:
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” - Galatians 2:19-20
What Paul is saying here is essentially this: Building a citadel of "law" isn't the answer. The rules aren't going to save you, they are just going to regulate your behavior.
If you want to experience the fullness of life, you have to empty yourself of everything that is getting in the way of being in a right relationship with God--rules, regulations as well as self-indulgence and false ideas of freedom.
May you find ways to be empty today of all the distractions of this world so that you can be filled with the fullness of God in Christ. May you experience the kind of closeness in your relationship with Jesus that brings your life in line with his.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.