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But being a Christian is nothing like that. Being a Christian is about living in fellowship with God and doing what fellowship calls for. Being a Christian is finding deep and authentic freedom and joy in a relationship with God.
This morning I have good news, great news. The good news is that God has come near. He draws us close to Himself, and then He offers us liberty and joy. I have wonderful news Ė that in Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, God has approached us and is offering us something life-giving, fulfilling, hope-bringing. Today I celebrate about what God is doing in Jesus Christ. He is drawing near to us, so that we may draw close to Him and may live free! Good news!
To do that, I am going to what may seem a strange place. It may seem odd that if I want to talk about Godís gift of freedom, I would go to Mt. Sinai, where the Ten Commandments were given. If I am to speak about Godís gift of freedom, why would I use a Scripture that speaks of commands and expectations? Why would I, if I want you to feel free, select a Scripture that says, over and over again, ďThou shalt notĒ. It sounds like itís all negatives, all demands, no joy. But just wait. Letís put it into context. Letís see what God was doing at Mt. Sinai when He gave the Ten Commandments.
First, notice that the Lordís deepest investment is not in commands, but it is in His people. His deepest concern is for us. He wants a direct, face-to-face encounter with us. God wants us to be in fellowship with Him.
Moses gathered the people, and said,
The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire. (At that time I was standing between the LORD and you to declare to you the words of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.)
The Lord spoke face to face. You see, God is profoundly invested in having a relationship with us. But our issue is that we are afraid. We are anxious. We do not go up to the mountain to encounter Him, because we are afraid. And so the Lord our God comes to us and reaches out to us. He goes out of His way to connect with us Ė not to punish us, not to threaten us, but to love us.
But I say again that our issue is that we are afraid and anxious. The more I read the Scriptures, the more I am persuaded that the heart of sin is fear and anxiety. I know it is customary to speak of pride as the core sin, and that has its place. But I believe, not only as I read the Bible but also as I read people, that the heart of sin is that fear and anxiety. We have not trusted the love and the care of God. And so we do create a legalistic religion. We invent a religious program that is so full of doís and doníts, thou shalts and thou shalt nots, that all the joy is squeezed out of it. All
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