Free to Choose
Encounter: Find a quiet place away from distractions to read and reflect on the following passages: 2 Corinthians 8, 1 John 3:18, Philippians 2:4, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, Romans 8:1-2 NLT. Begin to think about how the words used such as eager, finish, concern, equality and the life-giving Spirit speak about the freedom God has given us to act.
Raising children is not an easy task. Each week as I sit up front with our Eden Kids I remember something a grandmother told me when Meg was little. She said, “Parenting is about preparing your children to leave you. To prepare them to seek God on their own, make wise choices and live as a responsible citizen once they get their freedom.”
I had never thought about parenting in that way. I didn’t like the idea that Megan would live independent and out of the bounds of my control one day. But it was true. I had only a short time to prepare her to live in a world where the pull of popular culture and other entanglements would wage war against everything I was instilling into her life.
I can only imagine how it is for our Creator. Raising human beings to launch into a free will universe and make healthy choices cannot be an easy task. When we accept the invitation to follow Jesus, God is preparing us to live in the freedom He is so graciously giving us. Like a good and loving parent God is preparing us to be led by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who has set us free from our tendency to choose sin and death in the way we live.
Whether it is a child learning responsibility for the first time, a college student going away to college, a person who is self-employed or working remotely, from schedules to budgets and setting priorities we come to see the freedom God has given us brings a heavier weight of responsibility and more of a dependence on how he is guiding us to live our lives. We come to the realization that what we do with the gift of “freedom to choose” will determine whether or not we will finish what we start and whether we live the kingdom principles our Parent is instilling within us through His Spirit.
This was Paul’s emphasis in his letter to the Corinthian church. They were learning how to live in this newfound freedom of the Spirit of God instead of the constraints of the law and at first glance it sounds like they were doing pretty good. And then there’s this: Paul writes,
Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. So…Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
Paul tells these Jesus followers you’re doing great with the freedom God has given you, but here is a test. Are you ready to finish what you started? And does it resemble how Jesus who was rich became poor? When needed is your giving sacrificial?
As we get closer to Grace in Action Sunday and our Fall Congregational meeting on November 13th, let us together reflect on living into our priority of God’s kingdom of love being manifested through Eden Church. We can also take Paul’s words to heart as we finish what we started with our commitments to Eden’s Ministry Investment Plan as we increase our impact in our community.
I encourage you to continue to pray over your pledge cards, giving chart and, with the gift of the freedom to choose God has given you, pray about what your part in this community will be as we continue to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), to prayer and to doing good. If you are not yet a member of Eden Church, consider joining us for an informal lunch after church on November 6th to explore what it looks like to be "Devoted" to Christ's church.
So remember my friends. It is for freedom, Christ has set us free! Free to produce the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Freedom to be blessed and to be a blessing. That my friends is Grace in Action with no strings attached.
Free in Christ,
Reflect, Encourage and Gather - Listen to the podcast for Week 11 in No Strings and Follow the discussion questions in Week 11 with your small group.