Friday, October 19, 2012

Freedom to Burn

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    because of which he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

    He has sent me

to proclaim release to the captives,

    and recovery of sight to the blind,

to send out in freedom those who are oppressed,
19     to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4)

So here we are, freed by the blood of Jesus from our sin.  From our slavery.  From our blindness.  As Hebrews puts it, “but now he has appeared once at the end of the ages for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9)  “The end of the ages,” sounds kind of cool.  Like, it’s all done or something, right?  Nothing to do now but keep checking the sky for the contrail of his white stallion. 

Well, it’s been all done now for two thousand years.  So I guess we better figure out a way to amuse ourselves down here while we wait for the end of the end of the ages.  Paul says, whoa there, Baba Looey!  Before you get all “sin boldly,” on me, listen up,  13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5)

Well, that’s all very nice and lovey dovey, Paul.  Sounds a bit like the world’s “Who Needs God?  Just Be Nice!” motto; but why?  What’s the point?  We’re saved.  We’re in.  In the words of the great theologian, Larry the Cable Guy, why go fishing when you got shrimp?  Brother Pete, the fisherman-turned-fisher-of-men, tells us why, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s possession, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 10 who once were not a people, but now are the people of God, the ones who were not shown mercy, but now are shown mercy.”… “16 Live as free persons, and not using your freedom as a covering for evil, but as slaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the community of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1Pet 2)

Y’know, the more I read the Bible, the more it seems like it’s one guy telling one story through about six thousand years and one thousand, one hundred and forty-six pages.  Weird, hunh?  Take f’rinstance, that’s one word where I come from, the passage from Luke four.  It’s Jesus quoting Isaiah sixty-one.  Ike goes on to say in it, “And they will be called oaks of righteousness,

    the planting of Yahweh, to show his glory.
And they shall build the ancient ruins,

    they shall erect the former deserted places.

And they shall restore the devastated cities,

    the deserted places of many generations.
And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,

    and foreigners shall be your farmers and vinedressers.
But you shall be called the priests of Yahweh,

    you will be called servers of our God.”(Is 61)
Priests again.  The Tabernacle and the Temple were “a sketch and shadow of the heavenly things,” a lampstand in the middle of a “a nation of priests.”  A lamp pointing to the True Light.  A lamp pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus coming at the “end of the ages.”  Jesus has come and made us, little ol’ you and me, into “a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” 

As Moses in Exodus 34, 28 And he was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights. He ate no food and drank no water…”  Guess he was literally living on every word of God.  “...and Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with him.”  God is doing something in us.  17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory into glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Because of this, since we have this ministry, just as we have been shown mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced shameful hidden things, not behaving with craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but with the open proclamation of the truth commending ourselves to every person’s conscience before God. But if indeed our gospel is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they would not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Cor 3-4)

We have a ministry we are being transformed to accomplish!  Like the blind man in Mark ten, Christ has opened our eyes and now we see His Light.  So what do we do now?

We do what the blind man did...  And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him on the road.” (Mark 10) We walk in the Light.  We keep our eyes on Him!  We follow. We do what we see Him doing. We listen.  We obey and He will make us lamps, temples, priests, a holy nation!  Reflecting His glory!  Little earthenware vessels, fed by the Spirit, bearing a small fraction of the True Light, the All Consuming Fire!

So we’re done, right?  Got this lamp thing licked.  Yep.  Once we say this…
…this thing we’ll say tomorrow, God willing.  Meanwhile, what’re you waiting for?  Shine already!

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