Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:
Okay, okay…it’s not new, those urgings to ‘Get out of your comfort zone; Think outside the box; Get a life; Remember Jeremiah 29:11…’ and similar challenges to move ahead into new spheres with God’s help.
Yet we keep coming across Christians who still haven’t made the positive move and got on with living life to the full in God-given freedom!
Although not a Christian/church commemoration, some Christians – especially those who pray for Israel – remember that Israel and Jews everywhere have just celebrated Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles this month. As Christians we can go further – we can recall with joy our freedom in Christ – God’s gift to everyone who desires not to be bound by unhappiness, the devil and his cunning restraints, sin and the uncertainty of life itself.
No longer boxed in
While much could be said about this Jewish celebration let’s just highlight one major aspect – it began as a joyous remembrance that Israel was no longer in captivity to Egypt, no longer under Pharaoh’s rule. They had been set free to discover a whole new life in the Promised Land…a life of freedom and success under God’s protection and provision and guidance.
We remember well Cecil B DeMille’s The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston – that great 1956 movie telling this historic Exodus event of people miraculously set free to enjoy life and worship and serve their God.
It’s interesting that this December Hollywood releases its 2014 movie on this subject – Exodus: God and Kings with Christian Bale as Moses, God’s messenger and leader (See this month’s The Buzz news). With new technology now available the movie evidently is noted for ‘shifting into high gear with the depiction of four of the 10 plagues and other footage.’
But the main point of the Exodus story, whether it’s a Hollywood grandiose movie, TV adaptation or the original Bible version is this – God set his people free! They definitely hadn’t been in a comfort zone but they were in a box and they had their role to play in getting out by both visualising it and swinging into action as God moved miraculously!
Christmas themes are in the air…the usual cards in stationers, the odd early jingle on radio, adverts for Christmas presents and wise churches calling for Christmas collections now for the needy of their community. Some churches have already announced their coming Christmas spectacular.
We should always remember the heart of Christmas – however it’s celebrated – isn’t the holiday itself, Christmas trees and Christmas fare, or gifts to and from family and friends. It’s about God’s free gift of salvation to us – his Son, Jesus Christ, to bring a lost world into a meaningful relationship with himself!
Romans 6:23 confirms the love of Father God: ‘The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Sin is ignoring and breaking God’s laws…the wrong things we think, say and do.
The babe of Bethlehem became the Saviour of humankind when he died on Calvary’ cross. Everyone who repents of sin and accepts him as their Saviour not only becomes born again but moves into a glorious freedom here and now. This is the heart of what we refer to as ‘conversion’ – a 180 degree turn! We move from going one direction (which led to eternal death – an eternity without God) into a new direction leading to heaven and an assured eternity with Father God.
A great aspect of this is that Christians are also now free to enjoy the present life as well as looking forward to a magnificent eternity free from sickness, sin’s temptations, false religion and burdensome religious laws, and of course Satan’s destructive power.
Jesus himself confirmed this freedom: ‘If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free’ (John 8:36).
‘Free’ is eleuthoros, indicating ‘not being a slave but a citizen; unrestrained to move freely in pleasure; exempt from obligatory ceremonial obligations; delivered and at liberty.’
Verse 35 reads: ‘Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.’ Christians are now free citizens – sons and daughters – of God’s family! That’s good news indeed!
This insight from Jesus initiated with the revelation that we can be freed from the penalty of sin. But this freedom in Christ extends into so many aspects of living life to the full.
He went on to remind his hearers that the devil is a liar and a destroyer – a killer. We’re well aware of that subtle inner voice that lies: querying ‘Who do you think you are?’…convincing us that we could never achieve this or that, that it’s safer to stay in our comfort zone, to not dream beyond the current box.
We become convinced that some sickness is ours in life, as is some trouble in the mind and we’re stuck with it. And that we could never assist grow our local church and expand the kingdom, that we’re useless.
And so boxes, comfort zones and such become our thing! But the truth is in Christ we are able to life a fuller life, uninhibited by lies and destructively comparing ourselves with others. We can believe for healing and miracles from God and for a better lifestyle – and we’re not talking flaky stuff here but about the reality of Jeremiah 29:11…God’s great plan for our life.
This includes happiness here and now, as well as a joyous eternity. We can move out of those boundaries of non-accomplishment, or little achievements, and that self-destructive mindset of ‘I can’t, therefore I won’t.’
One glorious aspect of becoming a Christian is that God’s Holy Spirit indwells us – the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to avoid boxes, comfort zones, people’s thoughtlessness and criticisms as well as Satan’s lies. A great comforting scripture is Philippians 4:13. The GNB puts it this way: ‘I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.’
The strength mentioned here is endunamoo – a word meaning ‘power’ and associates with the Spirit’s dunamis power. Jesus has ensured that we’re not left on our own to face all of life’s challenges nor be conned by Satan’s lies.
One other, all-important thought is this… Recently Maureen has been opening many Christians’ eyes by pointing out one reality of our salvation that isn’t talked about from pulpits – she shares: ‘Yes, Jesus saves us but the greatest overlooked fact is that this salvation includes being saved from ourselves.‘
Think that one through… and even as the Israelites had to do – act! Move on!