For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
– Galatians 5:1
I don’t know what it was like for you, but I have heard from so many since I started noodling around with this gospel wakefulness stuff that I know I’m not alone in this experience: When the sunlight of Christ, the radiance of God’s glory, broke into the dungeon of my soul, I finally knew what I’d been trying to ask for all along. The all-satisfaction of Christ in his gospel. I was asking for help, for rescue, for restoration, for happiness. Suddenly, in the Spirit’s awakening of me to the gospel, I knew I had been asking for all of Jesus.
Perhaps you’ve been there too. Like Amistad‘s Cinque we find our mouths fumbling about with words previously unknown. But they must come out. The routine and rigmarole of daily life — of even church life — begins to grate. What are we doing on these Sunday mornings entertaining everything but our souls with Christ? Scratching our feet, that’s what. (Or ears, I suppose.) But there was one final Sunday morning my heart could take it no longer. I had tasted and seen that the Lord was good and couldn’t accept stones for bread any more. I ached inside. Too much to keep on keepin’ on. I turned to my wife and whispered, “I can’t do this any more.”
So, pastors, I speak as one of you to you, as one of you who was once one of them: Will you continue to preach in such a way that you are tempting your people to finally throw up their chained hands and demand freedom? Are you going on about the business of religious busywork, as dynamic and heartwarming as it may sound, and neglecting the very power that provides the freedom to run for the prize?
As we prepare not just for Sunday sermons but for the entire life of our ministry, let us plan with this heart-cry, known and unknown, foremost in our minds: “Give us free!” Don’t make your people beg you to give them free. Give them free at every opportunity.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
— Luke 4:18-19