One of the greatest challenges that we have in life is moving beyond what we know and what we have gained control of and tamed. We are an entitled generation believing that we are owed something, we deserve, we have gained for ourselves the freedom from the past. And yet we are stuck in it. The Scripture says “we have not been given a Spirit that leads us back into the spirit of fear” meaning that our mindsets can negate that which Christ has given us because our minds stay trapped even when we have been set free. I am not a political analyst and the South African Freedom Day that is celebrated is important – but Freedom comes from salvation alone. So today we celebrate a political Freedom that cannot truly set us free. Only God through forgiveness can set us free.
In the New Testament Scriptures, we read of how the Jews had worked out how to please God by obeying a set of Rules. They had their religious observances and ceremonies and practices, and Jesus had corrected them where they had misused Scriptures and where they had made it about the wrong things. But for 1st Century Christians “The Way” was a new Jewish Cult, for Jews who had realized that Jesus was the fulfilment of their Scriptures and that he was the establishment of the new kingdom – a new kingdom that looked just like the old kingdom but it had Jesus in it. A new kingdom where we did the same things and just said in Jesus name at the end.
A new kingdom that was now approved by God and one that allowed us to say – ‘Lord in Jesus Name we ask that you hear us and set us free because you promised to hear us when we pray in your name.’ In the book of Acts, we find a people set free but stuck in the past, who said to Peter – you are breaking the law – if people want to follow Jesus, they must be Jews first. They were using Jesus to legitimize their religion, and not submitting to Jesus to transform their lives.
The battle continues today – Liberals use Jesus to legitimize their demands, they want the non-condemnation that Jesus offers, and the forgiveness and the freedom and the inclusion and the broadmindedness of their own thinking to be accepted by God through Jesus. The Conservatives want Jesus to pour out his Spirit over their tradition and their rigidness and their comfort zone.
In our flesh, we want new life without change! We want new hearts without removing the old! We need to open our hearts that we may want the new life that God offers, free from our bondage and open to love, open to being different.
The Book of Acts is about God by the power of His Holy Spirit bringing reform to the church, to the people, to the structure, to the hearts.
The challenge for us is: Are we still a Church of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, submitting to God and accepting His plans, or are we a Church that commemorates what God did in the past and what was achieved by us in His Name?
Today let us look not to the past, but to the present and submit ourselves to God, and accept the freedom that we have been given to serve Him. Freedom from the things that bind us to the ways of the world, and freedom to love for His Kingdom.
Let us Pray:
Holy God you have set the captives free, and death no longer has dominion over us. The only true freedom is the freedom that you offer. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us that we may walk in that freedom and serve you truly all the days of our lives.