11-16-14 Called to Be Free: Freedom in Christ

This has been a hard week on several of our FCC families, for many reasons.  Some experienced issues due to the inclement weather, others are dealing with sudden personal pitfalls, but the family struggling the most right now is the Baughers, who unexpectedly lost their daughter, Mary, this week.  Though Mary had dealt with health issues her whole life, she appeared to be comfortable and happy when her parents put her to bed on Thursday evening.  She fell asleep just fine, and simply never woke up.  Or, more to the point, she woke up in Heaven.  Please keep the Baugher family in your prayers this week, as they begin the work of re-engineering their lives without being the constant caregivers of their beloved daughter.  Her funeral this week was a poignant remembrance, but also a praise that Mary can now be freed from the shackles of her own body, at last.

I’d also like to remind everyone about our Congregational Thanksgiving Prayer Service coming up on Wednesday, November 26th, and our Christmas Caroling Party coming up on Wednesday, December 3rd.  We invite everyone to be a part of these celebrations of our Lord.

For that matter, please be praying for our Congregational Meeting this Thursday evening, where we will be going over our Spending Plan for 2015.  We’ve had to cinch our belts a chunk, thanks to economic hardships across the board for our FCCers, and we want to be able to explain as clearly as possible what we’re going to be doing over the next year and why.  Please come join us for dinner beforehand, and the meeting afterwards.

In our message this week, we continued our walk through Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches, focusing on “Freedom in Christ.”  Now, that’s become something of a catchphrase nowadays -- every church loves to proclaim how they help people find “freedom in Christ” (freedom to believe as they see fit and hold their own doctrinal opinions, freedom to live the lives that they wish to live, etc.).  That’s not bad, of course, but it’s never what that phrase refers to in Scripture.

In the Bible, “freedom in Christ” is never “freedom TO” anything; it’s always “freedom FROM” -- freedom from the guilt of sin, freedom from bondage to one another, freedom from bondage to the responsibility to somehow prove that we merit God’s love in our lives.  That may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction.  To our modern mindset, freedom usually means, “I get to do X,” but we can do all kinds of X while still retaining all of the unhealthy Y bits that have shackled us throughout our lives, and thus still have no real freedom at all.

But in Christ, we were freed from our sins, freed from our bondage to living out the Law -- so how can we go back to enslaving ourselves (or those around us) to trying to be “good enough” to merit unmerited favor from the God who already loved us enough to die for us when we were at our worst?  

Let’s not hold one another for standards demanded in order for us to merit acceptance.  Instead, let’s encourage one another to simply let our new life in Christ naturally grow and overflow into our everyday lives -- to live our lives in ways that honor the God who already loves us.