The Bible often talks about freedom. That we are indeed free in Christ. Free to be the people he wants us to be, to grow in his grace, and even to make mistakes. Our freedom in Christ is a rather dicey subject. I say that because some Christians believe we can go too far with our freedom, that if we allow people to really believe that they are free, they will take advantage of the grace of God. I understand that, but the other side of that coin is that we tend to be control freaks. And the real issue is that being in control and experiencing true freedom don't mix too well! But, as the apostle Paul reminds us, we are free in Christ! Galatians 5:1 reads, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Paul tells us very pointedly to watch out for those who are overzealous about works. Any of us Christians can easily fall into the trap of the Pharisees. They made the mistake of equating holiness with performance. Both Jesus and Paul warn against that, because the Christian life is not about performance, and it's not about living perfect lives. It is about experiencing grace, love, and forgiveness and then turning around to offer that to others!

Someone may ask then “Are you saying that our behavior, our works, our testimony, don't matter?” Of course they do. But my guess is that they are not as important as we think they are. The book of James tells us explicitly that faith without works is a dead faith, one that is useless, for a real faith will produce fruit that blesses others. So of course what we do, how we behave, letting our light shine, they all matter! Just not to the extent that we tend to think they do! One of the dangers in the Christian life lies in putting works ahead of faith. We can get so wrapped up in our testimony, our performance, our appearance, thinking that these are all things that will make non-Christians want to come to Christ, but the fact is, they don't! What they do accomplish is making non-Christians feel as if they will never measure up. In addition, they make other Christians somewhat annoying to be around as we compare notes regarding who is holier. And in either case, they cause us to stretch the truth as to how good we are, or how far we've come. So our works matter to the extent that they flow out of a genuine love for God and for others and really to the extent that they bless the people around us.
This blog is about freedom. What exactly are we free from? First, we are free from our sin. Jesus' work on the cross paid it all. That's good news, really good. Free from sin past, present, and future. It's done. Paid for and there is nothing we do to make that better, or worse. We don't lose our salvation because we didn't earn it. So he's freed us from our sin! Very sweet.

He also frees us from the performance trap. That the Christian life is all about getting better everyday in every way: it’s not. Because in Christ we are perfect. His workmanship is not flawed.

In addition…he also frees us from other Christians! There is a part of me that hates to say that but it's true. You and I still will encounter Pharisees, people who want to tell you how to live, how to behave, small minded people who want to make the rules and who still focus on performance like it is the holy grail. They are like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas! Learn not to listen, or care what they think. Know that you are free in Christ to follow him and not someone's contrived list.

That's about it for now. We are all on a learning curve here. Be gracious, have some fun, and keep running to Jesus. Don't let any Grinch steal your joy.

Pete Nelson