Liberated to be a God's Child
Over the past 9 months, Pastors Kevin & Curt have voiced how great a conference titled "Liberate" was, and how great it will be for the staff and members of Willow Creek Church. For 9 months, I nodded along with them, feigned interest, and secretly resented that I was being made to go to a weekend conference out of town.
Over the 3 days at Liberate 2015 this past weekend, my heart and mind were completely broken and remade, and I am now all in with saying that this conference was AWESOME in every possible way!
Liberate is simply a movement of believers who want to communicate the truth's of the Gospel, "Good News" of Jesus Christ. Over 3 days, many speakers came in with the same message, simply, that Jesus is enough, and that his finished work on the cross allows us to be set free from the struggle to please and earn favor with God, ourselves, and others.
A verse that impacted me greatly this weekend was Matthew 11:28-29, which quotes Jesus saying, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
If you're like me, you read that verse and it is sounds so good. But you also know you are supposed to do good, treat people well, serve others, fight sin, and a million other things as a part of being a Christian. As a result, the experience of having our sin and debt removed becomes burdensome when we view the rest of our lives being about performing acts to earn merit, or to maintain the favor that God has graciously provided us.
At the conference, Pastor Ray Cortese, one of the primary speakers, shared it this way… Imagine you owe a large debt to the bank, and due to the debt, you accrue interest fees, and it becomes a perpetual cycle, with no hope of ever getting out of debt. You walk into the bank, and the bank manager graciously tells you that your debt and fees are removed, they are wiped clean, and you are at a zero balance. That is fantastic news!
This concept, is what the church teaches as the great act of justification, that we have been pardoned, or freed from our debt (sin), and our slate has been wiped clean.
However, we often stop there. And when we stop there, we are implying that our account balance is zero, and therefore it is up to us through obedience to Christ, Bible study, prayer, giving, and other measures, to make our account “grow.” Christ got us out of debt, now it is up to us to make ourselves rich.
Pastor Cortese went on to say that the Gospel reveals something very different. The Gospel reveals that we are not only made free from debt, but that we are actually given the rights and privileges to the bank! Galatians 4:7 talks about this concept, when Paul writes, “So you are no longer a slave (in debt because of sin), but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
This is the concept of imputation, that we have been given Christ’s righteousness, and we are viewed as heirs (sons or daughters) of God the Father.
The reality is, that for you who are in Christ Jesus, you are a son or daughter of the King! God smiles at his sons and daughters! You are greatly loved and adored, and your life here on Earth is able to be lived for Jesus, not out of obligation or attempts at merit, but rather out of your privileged status of heir to all of God’s promises. Now that is good news! Be liberated from “good works,” and instead be free to work out of the confidence of your status in Christ. Amen.