Sunday Thinking

As we head to church this morning, or go on vacation, maybe frustrated that the line at starbucks is too long, or that you might run into that weird dude in the church lobby, let’s set our mind to prayer for the church across the globe.

And maybe think about our western sensibilities and what it would look like to have a kingdom strategy and commitment to Jesus. Having Jesus as our all because we have nothing else…

When Clubhouses Were Free

This weekend my kids “built” a clubhouse for themselves behind our garage. It is just little nook under a tree that they brought a camping mat to and put some things in the branches to make it feel homey. They dirtied themselves with the fun of having a clubhouse, their very own place to laugh and play.

It wasn’t much of a clubhouse… it is what you might imagine the five and three-year-old architects/builders would assemble. But it is theirs. And for them, those moments in the clubhouse were free. Unencumbered by worry and without bills to pay. It reminded me of some of the forts and clubhouses I enjoyed as a kid. One in particular always comes to mind. It resided on an island in the creek of a neighborhood park. With my friends, we built an indestructible¬†space with different floors and rooms for us. Indestructible¬†until some other neighborhood kids found it and dismantled it! It was adventure, built with our own hands.

Nowadays, as grown-ups, clubhouses cost. Especially the really fun ones. But can we reclaim that same sense of adventure we had when everything was free and untainted by responsibility, burden, and brokenness? Even if not in our physical life, maybe our spiritual life? I sure hope so.

You see, somewhere along the way we stopped needing clubhouses. We stopped needing play. We learn that there was much to know and much to labor for. In fact, we learned that what was once free, now needed to be earned.

We do this with our thoughts of God too. We hear a great story of salvation and we have an ear-to-ear grin. But along the way, voices in the church and our culture begin to suggest we should go about earning this salvation, or more common, the gifts that come along with it. We weary, and it seems where there was once such wonderful laughter and play, there is now only begrudging dutiful behavior in the right direction. We have also begun to resent those that seem to be living in the free clubhouse.

This is my life. I hear, and even preach, the gospel. Jesus substituted himself for you. He saves, transforms and brings you all the way home to himself. Life is different and you live for different, truer things, but it remains a gift, it is still free. Somehow I listen to the accuser as he shouts that I am unworthy and if only I was a little more driven or talented then I would be something. Or if only I could get a handle on my sinful self… then the blessing would flow.

Over and over again Jesus is right there, inviting me into his clubhouse to chill. HIs call is a comforting “don’t believe that mess, come and play.” When I run after that, the clubhouse feels free again. And there is joy. Joy in him.

I want to answer that invitation more. I want to shoot down the accusations of the liar and defeat sin in my life. Because the more that happens, the more I have the same smile my kids have. Secure. Creative. And free to play.

Maybe today, in the face of the responsibility, the burden, and the brokenness, you need to answer the invitation to come and play. To come and rest. Do it. Run to Jesus. It is free and freeing. Let what he says about you define you and set the smile on your face. And let’s build clubhouses together!

Legal Death

“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4

We are no longer bound or committed to the law, the burden that left us making constant attempts at perfection and performance. Instead, we are alive to Christ and all that he has for us so that we might bear fruit for God.

And too often, out of our desire to produce fruit, we re-embrace the law and duty thinking it will achieve our goals. But in doing this all we are doing is taking back on a burden that we have been freed from.

“He (Paul) knew that striving to obey the law out of grudging duty will inescapably produce a greater desire to disobey, and disobedience produces death.” But instead it is looking to Christ that our desires for obedience grow and we obey out of a different motivation than the law. “Who will deliver us from our wretchedness and death? More rules or seven steps to perfection? No. Only our heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.”

Look to Jesus, be free, obey.

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 4.

No New Yoke

This verse was written on a board in one of the classrooms at church a few weeks ago and I was rather pleased to see it and to be reminded to stand firm in not submitting to a new yoke.

That is the message Paul was conveying to the Galatian church; don’t move back under law when you have been given freedom in Christ. Their situation was fairly logical for first century believers. Ethnic Jews among the population were claiming that once someone claimed Christ as savior that they had to undertake the symbolism of the Old Covenant and be circumcised. But Christ came to fulfill the law and give us freedom to live for him unencumbered by the old law.

Paul makes clear that when we add anything to Christ we have missed the point.

While not many of us are attempting to burden new believers with physical covenants we just can’t help ourselves and we are constantly adding more than grace requires of our faith. We create tiers of Christianity and reserve the top spots for those most obedient and well behaved. Our self-righteousness runs amuck and we think ourselves more spiritual, closer to Christ, than others. Even in my proclamation of grace I am prone to think that I have an exclusive claim on the truth and others preaching a lesser gospel are to be despised. How silly we are.

“For freedom Christ has set us free.” This is not literary flourish. This is the truth of the good news of Jesus. This is the gospel of grace. The moment we neglect preaching freedom, we preach a new burden, a new yoke and we sling guilt rather than grace. Our freedom drives us to love our neighbors not be depressed at our inability to fulfill a checklist of good behaviors or hold the right political views.

Christian, be unburdened today. Through grace you are free. Christ has not saved you to leave you to gain something else by merit. He will empower you to love and to become more like him. Rest in that grace and freedom.

Cast off the new yokes we try to put on you and go play.