Freedom to Love
What's the point of reflecting God to a culture that wants nothing to do with Him?
This is a question I've been thinking about often lately. In essence, the question might be: is godliness attractive? And if it isn't, is holiness therefore selfish?
Holiness, we say, is to be "set apart" - an abstinence to things we've deemed ungodly, or unwise in practice. Rightfully so, secular people would never aspire to holiness. That would mean they'd have to forfeit their desires in exchange for legislation, boredom, and pleasurelessness.
How lame is that?
As a church, we sometimes turn Christianity into legalism. We replace grace with law, and we expect those outside of the church to want what we have - even when we have a hard enough time wanting what we have ourselves. Sin is rampant inside of the church because we are human, but also because we've settled for a version of Christianity that isn't Christianity at all. This Christianity is constrictive; it is legalism coated in a pretense called "wisdom." It has nothing to do with our newfound liberty in Jesus, and everything to do with unbearable prohibition. The world is not attracted to prudence; neither is God! The world wants freedom, and it came through Jesus on the cross.
In reality, it's not that the world wants nothing to do with God. The world wants everything to do with God. What the world doesn't want is legislation and constriction. Humans instinctively demand freedom. Like William Wallace, the Scottish war hero made famous by Mel Gibson in Braveheart, we cry out in agony, "Freedom!" - even when our lives are on the line.
Contentedness comes only through freedom.
Freedom has no greater purpose. It is an end in itself. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1). The yoke being referred to here is the law. To submit to the law is to live life devoid of all true freedom.
Yet we know that freedom does not entail licentiousness. That too is enslavement. "We know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin" (Rom. 6:6).
However, licentiousness and freedom are not to be compared like two sides of the same coin. They are not. They are not. Licentiousness is enslavement to bodily passions for the sake of punctuated pleasure. Freedom consists in ongoing fellowship with God, producing perpetual pleasure.
Therefore, Christianity, in regards to holiness, is not a matter of law observance - but neither is it, in regards to grace, a matter of sin engagement. We are not to submit to the law in pursuit of holiness, in disregard to grace. And neither are we to submit to "grace" (pretentious grace, really) in pursuit of freedom, in disregard to holiness.
What do we do then? We love.
But what is love?
As the Apostle John said, God is love (1 John 4:8). God is love because God is community. There is no such thing as love outside of community; love must be shared in order for it to be love. In fact, God is not a singular person. He is actually three Persons, living in such unity of love that they are entirely indivisible.
Each person of God - Father, Son, and Spirit - is not one-third of God, so as to say that they are incomplete by Themselves. Each Person is fully God: not one-third, but one whole God. Love is the cohesive force that establishes these three whole Gods as just one God. If these three whole Gods were characterized by hatred and fear, as opposed to love, we could then classify them as three separate Gods, because they would be acting autonomously of one another. It is love that makes the oneness of God a reality. Each Person of God, through love, is one spirit with the other. That is what love is: unity. "Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16).
We've been given the freedom to love and to be loved. We are not called to judge, to fear, or to fret about whether or not we've obeyed well enough. This freedom is found only in God.
This is what every human being is crying out for: not the "freedom" to sin, but a true freedom, resulting in ongoing pleasure that comes from a community of love - a community always being enraptured by their being engaged in the divine community -Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Director of Youth and Discipleship
Riviera Baptist Church