Friday, May 11, 2012

Christian Freedom part V

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  – Colossians 3:12-17

Continuing on in the exploration of what Christian freedom really means, we have discovered what we are free from and why we are free.  Today we are going to explore what our responsibility for that freedom is.

Today, we have a mixed up view of what freedom really means.  In modern day society, the freedom of speech has become a ticket to say whatever you want without consequence.  But from what we explored yesterday, because we are free we should not slander or lie. 

Here’s an example, after the Constitutional Convention, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the founding fathers bequeathed us.  Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic…If you can keep it.”  The Constitution ratified on that day set the foundation of our nation as a Republic that granted us certain freedoms.  The responsibility of protecting the freedoms our constitutional republic grants us was given directly to we the people.  As with the founding of the America, our freedom in Christ comes with a responsibility.

Before I go into anything further, I think it is so very important to know that we are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.  God has chosen us to be His people by adoption of the Spirit through the death of Jesus.  We need to remember that.  Being holy means that we were dirty, but now we are washed and set aside for God’s purposes.

Yesterday, I gave an example of how I would not want to show up for a formal wedding dressed in dirty work clothes.  Rather, I would want to show up dressed in my formal attire appropriate for the occasion.  Indeed, we are invited to the most amazing wedding in the entire universe, the marriage of Jesus to His bride (Revelation 19:6-9) and we better make sure we have on the proper wedding attire to wear to it, consider the following scripture…

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”  - Matthew 22:11-14

So, what does that wedding attire look like, I think Paul gives us a pretty good answer here in Colossians 3.  We need to have compassionate hearts, hearts that are willing to empathize with people’s pain.  We need to show kindness rather than being critical.  We need to show humility and meekness rather than pride.  We need to be patient with one another and bear with each other and bear with each other because none of us are perfect.  Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience are what someone who is attending the wedding feast of Christ should be clothed with.

We should always be quick to forgive each other.  There is no sin that a human can commit against another human that the sin we have committed against God that put Jesus on the cross.  If God was good enough to send His only Son to die for us so that we could have forgiveness of sins, how much easier should it for us to forgive the minor sins that someone commits against us?

The most important of all the virtues is love.  Without love, anything we do is worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  It was out of love that Jesus came to earth to die for us (John 3:16).  Love should be our motivating factor for everything that we do.  And we need real, true love.  We need love that will confront a brother or sister living in sin so that they are not disqualified from the eternal prize.  Well, pretty much the example of what we find in the rest of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.  Why is love so important?  Because it binds everything that Christianity is in harmony.

Let the peace of God rule your heart.  This is a hectic world where things are moving frantically.  There is so much to stress about, so much to worry about.  But for God’s people, there is no need to worry or stress.  The peace of God will rule our hearts, but only if we let it.  We were called to be one body in Christ, we desperately need that peace to make it happen.

God is so good, and He has provided for everything we need.  There’s no reason to not be thankful.  Gas prices high?  Praise God you have a car to drive!  Problems at your work?  Praise God you have a job for Him to provide you money!  Too much housework?  Praise God you have a roof over your head!  It’s in our attitude.

We need to really, really immerse ourselves in the Word of Christ.  There was a study done recently about what people think is in the Bible and what is not.  A large majority of Christians surveyed believed that the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”  And many Christians were clueless as to what is actually in the Bible.  That’s why it is so important for us to let the Word of Christ dwell in us.

We should be teaching and admonishing one another.  Christ is at work in all of us and we have things to share with other believers.  Each of us can teach something to another person.  We also should not be afraid to admonish one another.  Admonish means to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner or to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to (Webster’s).  But we need to do this with the wisdom of God.  Remember, if we lack wisdom we need to ask God for it (James 1:5).

We get excited when our favorite sports team scores.  When we’re at a rock concert, we can sing the words with enthusiasm.  But why is it that when we’re at church celebrating Jesus who died for us, some of us can barely life our voices?  We should be happy to sing hymns and spiritual songs to Jesus.  There should be joy and thankfulness in our hearts.  When Paul and Silas were in prison, they were singing hymns (Acts 16:25).  If Paul and Silas could sing hymns in prison, why can’t we sing out loud in church?

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  This last part is the most important part of what Christian freedom means.  We are free, but we should use our freedom for the name of the Lord Jesus.  We need to ask ourselves, can we do (insert action here), or can we say “(insert words here)” in the name of the Lord Jesus?  If we cannot honestly answer that question, then whatever the action is, perhaps it’s not worth doing at all.  And for everything that we say or do, give thanks to the Lord who gave you the ability to do and say.

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