“For freedom Christ has set us free” Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
I am deeply saddened by how many Christians are stuck in a paralyzing fear of God. I see this a lot. This is not the awestruck reverence of a powerful and loving God., but the distorted fear of God as the cruel parent who punishes carelessly and in a fit of rage – saying destructive and demeaning things to their children. My heart breaks for those suffering with distorted guilt because they interpret every trial, struggle or failure as a result of God punishing them for not being enough or doing enough. Many unconsciously believe that God views them as unloveable and not worth saving… so they work hard to prove to God that they are worthy of love – all the while suffering from deep shame.
God has not called us to live from a place of distorted guilt, fear or shame. God loves us deeply and tenaciously – even the most broken, sinful and wretched of us. In the grace of Christ we are able to enter into that place of being deeply loved. This becomes the starting point for the Christian life. It is from this place of abiding in Christ – with all our brokenness, sinfulness and resistance – that we learn to love God and love His call to holiness… a holiness that is living out the same way of love that He loves us with. This is freedom.
We are not merely saved from the penalty of sin – but we are saved from a relational isolation from the God of the universe who is Love. The gospel is the great news that Jesus has set us free from our bondage to sin in order to live into the joyous freedom of living lives characterized by love. Our sanctification is made possible as we are held in the loving arms of our glorious God and as we grow in love for Him. From this place of relational love with God we find ourselves transformed and living in ever increasing freedom to love and be loved. God gently holds us while we begin to name all the brokenness, sinfulness and woundedness in our souls – and it is our love for God that helps us learn to live lives that are characterized by a love for others, an acceptance of our limitations and a delighting in the beauties of God. In this way our entering into sanctification and repentance becomes a joyous journey to freedom.