An Invitation Into Freedom
“Enjoying and extending the freedom and family found at the table Jesus prepared.”
For the next few blogs I’d like to share a bit about our desire to live in the statement above. Some may call it a mission statement or perhaps a vision statement. That is all fine and good. However, I like to think of it as an invitation.
Imagine receiving an ivory colored envelope with your name neatly written in calligraphy on the front. You peel back the the corner to reveal a beautiful invitation that simply reads:
“You are invited to enjoy and extend the freedom and family found at the table Jesus has prepared.”
As lovely as the envelope and invitation may be, the meaning of the invitation is spectacular, if you dare to believe it is true. So, my hope isn’t just that you would enjoy the invitation, but that you would be in awe of the offer. Let’s spend some time looking at what this invitation means. We will begin with the word: “freedom.”
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Galatia, reminds them that it is for freedom that Christ (in the gospel) has set them free. But what does that even mean, Paul?
Understand that he was writing to a people who were experiencing pressure to add some practices (beliefs and behaviors) to their faith in Christ in order to be “real Christians.” There were teachers telling them that their faith in Jesus’ work was good, but they needed to do more to show they were committed.
In essence, the teaching was that Jesus plus other things will bring you true salvation. But this teaching doesn’t truly bring freedom. It’s like saying, “You are saved by faith in Jesus, but now you have to prove your faith by doing special things.”
For the Church in Galatia, one of these special things included the practice of circumcision for men to keep with the religious law. Into this, Paul says, “You’re actually free!”
One of the beautiful mysteries of the gospel is that faith in Jesus’ finished work, his doing what we couldn’t do--fulfill the law of love perfectly--makes us right with God. We are free from the bondage to our own slavery, sin, and death. Through faith, we are free from needing to prove ourselves or perform one religious act to try and earn favor with God.
Being free from a life trying to earn God’s approval, we are now free from spending our time worrying if we are approved of by God. We are free to spend our life loving God and others as a way of showing what living in this freedom looks like.
It seems like Paul’s statement isn’t a circular argument--it’s a beautiful invitation. For those who believe, we are free for the purpose of being free. What could be more beautiful than that!