A lesson in freedom – roses for my love

Galatians 5:1                “It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery.”


John 8:36                     “‘So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’”


Ephesians 2:4-10           “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”


Titus 3:5                       “He save us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”


Philippians 3:8-9           “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”


Romans 1:21-22            “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools.”


Psalm 92:1-2, 4-5          “It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night.  For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.  How great are Your works, O LORD!  Your thoughts are very deep.”


Awhile back I attended a breakfast with a friend of mine.  One of the guest speakers at the breakfast shared with us a story that God used in his life as the inaugural step that turned his life around.  He was listening to the radio on the way home after receiving news that his father was about to pass away, and he had just weeks before tragically lost his best friend.  He had a long trip ahead of him, and he was having a difficult conversation with God.  His relationship with God was rather infant-like and immature at the time, and he was excruciatingly confused by the heavy turn of events he was experiencing.  The radio program he found was a lesson from a pastor and Christian author.  The simple story the pastor shared not only addresses so well the manner of relationship we have with our spouse, but I believe it also addresses the tenor of the relationship we should have with Christ.
The pastor was trying to do something special for his wife on their 27th anniversary, so he came home with a dozen roses to begin the evening.  Before he drove into the driveway his thoughts went to the tone of the greeting he should share with his wife if she questioned the special gesture.  He was painfully aware of the typical mentality that seems to dominate the current familial culture, but he was also seeking to have a much more profound and intimate marriage relationship.  He could respond to his wife with, “It is my duty as a good husband to do something for you on our anniversary.”  That certainly puts the check in the block so to speak, but the “sense of duty” mentality, though it may inspire one to accomplish the right thing, is so empty, so shallow, and so impersonal and bland, devoid of any life and passion.  In all honesty, it seems to me that this approach has “self” at the center of its motivation, though masked by a seemingly self-sacrificing facade.  It inspires absolutely nothing, and leaves the recipient feeling like an object, and not the valued lover they should be.  However, another response he contemplated was, “You are the most awesome and wonderful lady in this world.  It is my grateful honor to have the privilege to share my life with you.”  Now this kind of greeting and tone of giving communicates a much different love story!  This response speaks of true value, love, and care that is recipient-centered.  This is the real deal, where the giver ideally denies his desires and seeks only to meet the needs and wants of the other – in essence living their life for the benefit of the other.
Question … shouldn’t this be the manner of relationship we have with Christ?  I often meet people who say they follow Christ, but they do so out of a sense of duty in their service for Him.  They try to drudgingly obey his every word, oftentimes with the sincerest of intentions.  Life with Him becomes one solemn act of obedience after another, as if they are trying to demonstrate some level of commitment, attempting to validate their love for Him and make Him proud.  I have lived this way much too often myself, and through it all I wanted so much to experience more freedom in my life of dedication.  And the awesome thing is that Christ wants the same thing for me!  If I step back and look at the big picture of who I am and who He is, and contemplate what I have done and what He has done for me, how can I miss the perspective and approach of living a life filled with gratitude?  Why can I not live every aspect of my life from a platform of gratefulness and honor that He has chosen me – and He didn’t have to, and I certainly didn’t deserve His love?  Why can I not be motivated in my every decision and action by a thankful spirit?
It seems so contradictory, so ironical, that to choose to subject myself to a life of grateful servitude to Him can produce so much freedom, but it does.  On one hand the choices many make out of a desire to find and live in self-saturated freedom only lead them in the end to a life of bondage and slavery to insatiable self-indulgence.  They find themselves ensnared in a trap of consequences and addictions they have reaped from the seeds they have chosen to sow.  But on the other hand to voluntarily submit one’s self, and to agree to make one’s self “a slave” to the ways and words of Christ out of gratitude for all He has done to buy them back, is to reap freedom.  It does not make any earthly sense, but then what things of Christ ever really do?
I am honored to give my life to Him to be used by Him in any way, shape, or manner He desires.  It is my pleasure to do so.  And I am free!