Posted tagged ‘The Church’

Free Faith

July 3, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               July 3, 2012

Tomorrow we celebrate being in “The Land of the Free.” Hopefully, here in Colorado, it will be “free of any fireworks!” “Fire” is not a well-received word around these parts this summer!

In the Christian faith we talk about being set free to be. Familiar verses about freedom abound:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32b)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the (free) gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23; I added the word “free” in verse 23).

Being set free…being unchained…is a theme that keeps appearing over and over again in the Scriptures. It’s good news! It was really good news to all of the slaves that were a part of the Roman Empire. It was really good news to the African-American slaves of 18th century America. The gospel held hope and possibilities to those who were told there were no possibilities, no future outside of bondage.

What we often skip over is the price that was willingly paid to bring that freedom. American patriots fought for freedom. Jesus died on the cross to set us free. Followers of Jesus through the ages have laid down their lives to help keep oppression from gaining a stronghold.

It’s easy to forget that and quickly embrace a “free faith.” Let me explain! As I sit typing these words I’m listening to music on “Spotify.” I recently saw that it would take a person 85 years of listening to music on Spotify twenty-four hours a day to hear all the music that is currently on it. I’m currently listening to the David Crowder Band, mixed in with some NeedtoBreathe. You may be unimpressed! Okay! I can switch to Coldplay or U2, if that helps! The point is that I can listen to whatever music I want at whatever time I desire…for free! Every four to five songs Spotify inserts about a 15 second commercial, and I also could upgrade to Premium for ten bucks a month, but since I haven’t it is a free service.

In fact, if you surf the internet you’ll notice that there are a multitude of free things. I can go to Starbucks today and pick up this week’s free “app” and “free song.” As a result of those things my iPhone has Scrabble on it, an episode of Planet Earth, and an Paul McCartney song. I don’t even have to buy anything at Starbucks- just walk in, get this week’s offer, which is on a card, and then download the app with the code on the back of the card.

I can go to Costco and get free lunch…in several bite-size portions!

“Free” is becoming the expected. When something becomes the expected it can lose any sense of cost that brought it to this point. Perhaps that’s why a lot of people “walk lightly” with the Lord, because Jesus’ atoning death has come to the point with them where they have taken it for granted. It has become the expected. I can hear some even muttering “It’s what he should have done!”

Free”has come to mean free of pain, free of obligation, free to ignore, free to exploit.

We used to say “You get what you pay for.” That is becoming an out-dated term, because more and more is being offered free…and there is value!

The implications of this are important, and somewhat sobering, for the church. To “tithe” is a concept that looks to become increasingly “weird.” If so many free offers are a part of my life then giving a tithe to the Lord will stand out in its unusualness.

Of course, first-century Christians stood out in their unusualness. To hear of people in the first church making sure that everyone’s needs were being met was…different! To have the Macedonian Christians (2 Corinthians 8) sending “mission funds” to help the people in Jerusalem confounded a lot of folk.

As I freely listen to Building 429 sing “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” on Spotify, I recognize following Jesus will have increasing costs attached to it. How the church responds to that in Spirit-led ways that proclaim the story of redemption will, I strongly believe, re-shape the Body of Christ into being more missional, incarnational, and perhaps more focused on being set free to be the people of God!