When the Holy Spirit first called my wife and I to “flee Babylon”, I remember asking “who or what is Babylon?” Perhaps He answered the question at the time, still it was 2 years before we began to understand enough of what the Lord was showing us to hear and obey His call to leave man’s traditional church for Jesus’ Church alone.
When we moved from the rural Midwest to the Pacific Northwest last fall, we attended a small country church to meet other believers with whom to break bread real and spiritual. That “new church smell” dissipated quickly, overpowered by the noxious odors of man’s tradition-bound religion. After just 8 months, we left for that wonderful spacious place (Psalm 18:19) of freedom in Christ we had come to know and love for so long. We have no regrets about our time in the small country church for we did indeed meet several spirit-filled brothers and sisters and the experience has rekindled my passion for writing.
About that, I once told a brother “ever since the Lord brought me to a place of peace and contentment, my writing came to a halt.” With a laugh I mused “perhaps I should stir up some trouble to rekindle my writing.” Apparently, the Lord agreed with that sentiment and here we are today. For purposes of growing in the Lord while living in this world, peace and contentment is no more than a rest stop. 😉
Creation was subjected to frustration but not by its own choice. The one who subjected it to frustration did so in the hope that it would also be set free from slavery to decay in order to share the glorious freedom that the children of God will have. (Romans 8:20-21 GW)
More often than not, enlightenment comes when the Lord tosses me into the fray and I cry out to Him for help. Silly man that I am, sometimes my troubles are of my own making, like the fallout from asking an honest but socially impertinent question. Perhaps it is a character defect, but it’s difficult to resist asking them, if only to provoke an honest examination of the falsehoods people have embraced. Walking with the Lord I have come to love the truth and have little patience for pretense and falsehood. Though still uncomfortable for me as a recovering people-pleaser, I try to practice speaking the truth in love. Hence, asking questions I know will get me lumped.
Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head. (Ephesians 4:15 CEV)
For example, one Sunday last fall the pastor announced a local men’s conference and asked if any of us wanted to attend. The conference flyer handed out with the bulletin that morning said pastors were admitted for FREE while everyone else had to pay $30. I found the double standard a put off and decided against going.
Ironically, the pastor’s sermon that morning focused on our identity as Sons of God in Christ during which the pastor read from Matthew 17:26 wherein Jesus proclaimed “The Sons are FREE!”. I vaguely recall muttering to myself “unless of course it’s a men’s conference where only pastors are free. The rest of us have to cough up 30 bucks”. Note to self: muttering may be another of my character defects.
When the service was over I shook the pastors hand on the way out and remarked “if you’re not careful, you’ll preach yourself into a corner.”
The pastor replied “how so?”
“You said the Sons are free, but we have to pay $30 to get into the same conference you get into for free. So are only pastors free sons, or all of us free sons?”
He laughed but offered no reply.
I asked “what would you think if I sent in my registration form and wrote ‘The Sons are FREE’ on it?”
Again he laughed and said “good luck with that.”
It was a light-hearted moment, intended mainly for a humorous look at a Biblical truth rarely embraced by the “Church, Inc.” Were it the extent of untruth we Christians embrace in lieu of Biblical truth, I wouldn’t be bothered. Sadly, there are countless ways in which we ignore scripture and embrace a lie instead.
When they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he entered into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.” (Matthew 17:24-26 EMTV)
When Jesus said “the Sons are Free” it was in regard to paying taxes for the temple building and religious services.
Is it not strange, even deceptive, to preach “the Sons are Free”, yet upon concluding the sermon an offering is taken to pay for the church building and religious services?
Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again. (Galatians 5:1 GW)
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, it is time we made an inventory of the many benefits of freedom in Christ, to take possession of them and to stand fast against those who seek to profit from our reluctance to make use of our benefits.
Freedom is what Jesus wants for us.
Our freedom is what Jesus died for.
Therefore, honor Jesus by walking in that freedom.