In the process of finishing my article on the Freedom we have in Christ, or rather how Christ Himself is our actual freedom, I've seen the need to listen to some of the resources I've exposed myself to prior continuing what I've started. I tried finishing the said article once in the past, but I ironically felt that what I produced sounded too desperate.
So I'm taking one step back to take two steps forward. It's Thursday afternoon, and I'm about to write up a storm.
No Strings Attached by Andrew Farley, Take 2
It is EXTREMELY rare for a good thing in this world today to have absolutely no strings attached. In the light of this, since people are expecting a catch, or something in return or as payment, we ought to move towards serving in the light of how we were served, serving without strings attached, serving without a catch, as Christ's finished work guaranteed so much for us, without any catch.
It's pretty funny, pretty sad at the same time that we can talk about God's unconditional love towards us, but then again we would imply that there are strings attached down the line. Before we go ahead and talk to other people about how there are no strings attached, and no catches to the perfect and everlasting love of God towards us, we must understand it ourselves.
The Forgiveness we have in Christ has no strings attached. This is pretty controversial, depending on who you speak to. The Catholic will tell you that forgiveness is given to you by a priest you confess to. The Protestant will tell you that you are 'totally' forgiven, but when you sin, God's presence is 'removed' from you, and you would have to confess for His presence to return.
I've noticed how we don't necessarily fall for these sorts of strings, but based on what we were brought to believe prior to the establishment of our faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (Note To Self: More on this later), we still throw in strings and subtle 'hairs' to what we talk about. In other words, we say we believe in the forgiveness we have in Christ, but then again we would want others to confess to us before we forgive them of the wrong they committed.
Some of us still preach on 1 John 1:9 as if it was totally our verse as believers to observe, when it has already been established time and time again that the first chapter of 1 John was primarily for anyone who preached and cleaved to the Gnostic mindset/theology/doctrine.
Fortunately, God Himself has taken all these strings away, cutting ALL of them, leaving a forgiveness without any hitches. The book of Hebrews emphasizes how we have cleansing and once-for-all forgiveness. Note that this was not always the case, especially as we would see in the Old Testament... Today, we have Peter who says that Jesus Christ died once and for all. The book of Hebrews tells us that we have been forgiven one time for all eternity; by one sacrifice we have been made not just forgiven, but perfect for all eternity... forever!
Seeing how this is just so good, we ought to let the goodness of this forgiveness we have in Christ continue to boil over and to overflow! Yes, we understand how there is the tendency for us to show some concern over our behavior, or the behavior of others as a response to this great, great cleansing and forgiveness we have - the concern that we now have a path or a doorway to abusing this said grace...
But guess what, not only has our loving Father indicated that this forgiveness is true and has no strings attached... It's not the only thing we have in Christ! So all the strings are cut off, and there are greater things attached to this forgiveness!
The Pharisees were good in adding weight to the perfect Law; we're just as good in adding conditions to God's unconditional love brought about by the New Covenant. But God is just for us. Period.
There are all sorts of people and entities and forces that want to control us. Consequently, we want to try to control other people ourselves; this is why a good number of us, whether Christian or not, do have issues when we say that God's love and forgiveness has no strings attached. It's completely contrary to what we're used to doing and how we're used to living. All of our systems to control ourselves and others are simply vanquished with this Truth.
Actually, the forgiveness we have in Christ is already reviving and motivating on its own. Peter reminds us that if we are lacking in qualities we shine as Christians, then the most probable cause of this is that we have forgotten the forgiveness we have in Christ.
There's more. Our Freedom in Christ has no strings attached. Freedom with one string attached is no freedom at all. Yes, we're free to sin. God doesn't want you to sin. We don't want you to sin. But what we're saying is that when you make a mistake, or when you've sinned, it isn't a deal breaker. However, it's not sin that we aren't focused on, but grace - it's the grace of God that teaches us not to sin.
Our Identity in Christ has no strings attached. Your past is no longer a string attached to your identity. Your addiction to pornography is not a string attached to your identity. You were washed, justified, and sanctified from your previous identity of not just a person who sins, but a sinner. By Christ's finished work, you are set free from the string that implies that you are what you do, or you ought to do something in order for you to be what you ought to be.
No, your Identity is established by birth - as Christ rose from the dead, so you rose again, you were born again - Your identity is established by what Christ did, and this stands no matter what you do. This is the Truth that sets you free, the Truth that is worth celebrating!
Our Life in Christ has no strings attached. We have been given, and freely given all things, including life, because of Jesus Christ. Our life is made solid, and we enjoy God's presence 100% of the time, without our obedience as the basis of this presence. We aren't obedient for His presence; we have received His presence - His Spirit and union came first! He didn't wait for us to be obedient - While we were sinners, He gave His life to us, and He is expressed through us through the obedience and righteousness He established.
There are no strings attached to our Choices - If we choose poorly, yes, there will be consequences, but again, this isn't a deal-breaker, nor is it grounds for God to 'punish' us... Sin has already been punished at the cross.
We can choose to waste our time making foolish choices, and He's still going to receive us and love us, but it's still going to be a foolish choice, with corresponding conseqeunces!
When there's trouble in paradise, when there's conflict in marriage and our relationships, when there are fights in the church... well, here are times when realizing how God's love and grace has no strings attached can really help. See, the more we understand how there are no if-then statements behind God's love absolutely poured out upon us, the more we are able to not just tolerate insufferable people - when we give up our right to have the response we desire, or when we give up the strings attached, there is much more potential to resolving conflict, and bringing life.
It's time for us to cut strings and to truly shower people with agape, encouraging people and loving people just because of who they are. We may find this tough at first, but when we realize how we ourselves have received so much and all things through Christ without any strings attached, we have no other ending, no better result than to walk in the light towards the infinitely brighter day.
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26