Who am I? I look at my life and I ask that question a lot. Who am I? I’m overweight. I’m stressed. I’m constantly worried that I am going to fail at whatever it is that I am doing. Who am I? My house is a mess. My marriage has troubles. My kids argue with me. I have a job that I don’t like because the career I love doesn’t pay enough. Who am I? I have no money in the bank and I spend more than I make. I have an addictive personality which tends toward pornography, binge eating, binge watching, and a desire for intoxication. Who am I? I’m a Christian. So I have to make myself look like the perfect guy so that I can be a good example to everyone at church and on Facebook.
What a crock of shit! Excuse me if my choice of literary expression has offended the Christian reader, but that is the best way to express the load of shit that has been forced down our throats by the Pharisitical church leadership for hundreds of years.
“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.” Galatians 5:1. This is one of my favorite verses, but the context of this verse is often missed. People love to use this verse to encourage someone struggling with a sinful activity. “Brother, you can beat pornography. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!” But the apostle Paul is not encouraging the Galatians to overcome their sinful activities. He is encouraging them to find freedom from the yoke of slavery placed on them by the law.
There were agitators in the Galatian church that were trying to place upon them the burden of justifying their own salvation through works. “You must stay away from certain foods. You must be circumcised. You must observe certain holidays. You must avoid things that make you unclean.” They needed to show God that they were worthy of his salvation through their works.
So why is this a problem? Don’t we want to show God that we are willing to live for him? Absolutely!…Kind of. The goal can never be to work our way to God or try to gain his acceptance by doing good works. It is a futile attempt that we will never accomplish. Instead we are to open ourselves completely to God and allow him to influence who we are. But we must always live openly before God showing him our good parts and our not so good parts.
If our goal is to change who we are in order to please God, then we have completely missed the freedom that Christ died for. We hide who we are because who we are is not good enough. We try to become who we think God wants us to be. In our hearts, we know that we are not who we pretend to be. This lie becomes a chain that ties us down and keeps us from expressing who we really are. If God only likes the person I pretend to be, then he doesn’t actually like me. I must therefore hide who I am from God.
Freedom is living honestly before God and others and knowing that you are loved for who you are. And guess what, God would prefer that you live in freedom. In fact, he died so that you could live in freedom. He wants you to trust him enough to be vulnerable before him. He wants to see your undesirable parts. He wants to see the deep dark secrets that you dare not share with anyone else. He wants to know about that terrible thing you did.
He also wants you to be honest before men. Trust him to be a light shining through you despite yourself. Yes, I have a drink from time to time. Yes, I use language that that typically comes in 4 letter packages. Yes, my wife and I fight. Yes, my children drive me nuts, I dislike my job, I struggle with my finances, and my dog has fleas (that last part was needed to make this a country song). But I love my family. I love my brothers in Christ. I am honest. I desire to see the good in people. I cry when others are hurt because God allows me to empathize with them. I get energized when I see growth in others.
I have been told on numerous occasions that as a believer in Christ I must show people that there is a difference between myself and those not in Christ. You must put forth a “Christian” persona. When an unbeliever looks at me, he/she must see the reflection of Christ. They must see how miserable they are and how wonderful my life is. This is what will draw them to Jesus. Only listen to Christian music. Only watch Christian or PG films. Attend church every Sunday and a bible study every Wednesday. Refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and bad language. Hide who you are and become what Christian culture expects you to be. They tell you that this is the way to please Jesus.
Wake up Galatian Church! Wake up American church! Wake up all of you who have been set free from the letter of the law. Jesus knows who you are. Be you! Live free!
The argument then turns to a promotion of sin. If I live exposed, am I not promoting sinful behavior? Am I not telling people that it is ok to be sinful because that is who they are? No. I am telling them to take it to the cross. “I am an angry person.” Take it to the cross. “I have a drug issue.” Take it to the cross. “I am in an extra-marital affair.” Take it to the cross. “I cuss, drink, smoke and chew and tend to hang with girls who do too.” Take it to the cross. If the Spirit is in you, He is going to work out those issues that He wants to work through. He is going to change you from the inside and you won’t have to hide these things any longer. But let Him do it. I still drink (but not to access), I smoke an occasional cigar, I love the colorful expressions of a good 4 letter word. But my anger issues are a fraction of what they used to be. I don’t get bombed every time I go for a drink. I no longer use illegal drugs. I didn’t need to hide. I needed to be open with God.
Paul addresses this with the Galatians in Chapter 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. As we open ourselves to Jesus, we will bear his fruit. Not by our own doing, but by the changes he makes in us. This is the reflection of Jesus that will draw the lost closer to him. Then you are walking in freedom and he is making you into who he wants you to be.
Bobby Kurbat, Treasurer