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Monday, December 28, 2015

A Gift Easy to Forget



There’s a gift that I’m learning to value more and more, though it’s nothing new to me.  I hope I can help you to value it more too, as it’s a gift that the world around us is working hard to devalue.  Men gave their lives so that we can enjoy this gift, yet we often take it for granted.  This gift is freedom.

The story of Roger Williams is a piece of history we should all become acquainted with.  Roger hated seeing people oppressed.  He stood firmly against intolerance and oppression, which were common in the colonial age he lived in.  While those around him in New England were busy exploiting the new world around them, he treated the Natives fairly and befriended them.  He founded the colony of Rhode Island on a bold new principle: that one’s religious persuasion should not affect his or her civil standing.

About 150 years later, a group of men who some would call rebels pledged themselves to live or to die for the principles of liberty, and founded the United States of America.  These principles have now influenced most of the world for decades.  Much of the prosperity, peace and happiness enjoyed in the world is owed to these principles.

Freedom came from throwing off the rule of the King of England.  There’s a freedom I love even more, however, and this freedom comes the opposite way: from submitting to the rule of a King.  Sure sounds ironic, doesn’t it?  It won’t when you know the King.

I had the privilege of tagging along with Fountainview’s choir and orchestra on their Christmas tour this year, so I heard their concert about 25 times.  Their featured song, “What Kind of King”, was meaningful to me each of those 25 times.  The lyrics include “What kind of king trades a royal robe for rags, and wears a crown of thorns upon His brow?  Who leaves His throne to carry a cross so willingly…”

We’re familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth – Baby born in manger and all that – so familiar that it’s easy to miss the significance of it.  Can you imagine the freedom He enjoyed as Prince of the Universe?  He could do anything He wanted to do, go anywhere He desired to go, and even create anything He could dream of.  What would make Him give that up, and constrain Himself to human limitations – the hard life of a poor man?

He couldn’t stand seeing us without freedom.  He saw that we were slaves to sin, and knew that this slavery always leads to death.  He had to reach us with the only thing powerful enough to break the chains of sin we were bound with: love.  Jesus’ promise is that He’ll write His law of love on the hearts of all who invite Him to.  He values our freedom too much to force this on us: we must continually choose Him.

God’s law is known as the Law of Liberty.  This title seems like an unsolvable paradox until we realize where the law is written: in our minds.  There will be a kingdom that enjoys a much fuller freedom than any of us now experience.  It will be a country where everyone does what they want to do – because like Jesus their favorite thing to do will be to make the lives of others better.  You can be part of this kingdom: God will qualify everyone who is willing.  I recommend the book Steps to Christ for more details – it’s easy to find online.