Summary: The moment every Christian begins to truly grow in Him is when we realize we’re completely dependent on Him for forgiveness. It is only then that we become free to fully yield our lives to God. But God does not leave us there. He has given us his Spirit t
Breathe: Living Free
In London, the ad agency handling T-Mobile’s account hired dance troupes in the Liverpool London train station to dance to music piped in over the station’s intercom system. The dancers had two minutes to get everyone to dance to five different rhythms. Let’s see the result…..(play video) “Life’s for Sharing.” From the Christian perspective, life is for sharing….. sharing in the move of the Spirit. And just as the Holy Spirit is always living, moving and breathing among us, the challenge for most Christians is to get in sync with the Spirit and move as the Spirit does, where the Spirit does. This summer we have been rediscovering the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God and the way we experience Jesus today in our lives. It is only in the Spirit that you will be free to live the lives God intends for us.
Two weeks ago we celebrated as a nation our freedom. We recognize that freedom is an innate need God has placed within our souls. Many of you will remember this image of Tinamen Square where a student stood down the tanks and every time the tank moved he moved as well, until he finally climbed up on the tank and placed a flower in the turret. He was one of 1000’s of young people who demonstrated and demanded freedom, resulting in beatings and even imprisonment. More recently, we have seen similar images from Egypt, Syria, and Libya where young people have protested and demonstrated for freedom. All of these incidents are testimony that there is within us a desire for political freedom.
But there is also a deeper need for freedom within us and that is the freedom from sin and the life it leads to which is full of contradiction and deceit. And that really is the struggle for many of us. We say one thing and do another. We come to worship but then live as the world lives. We have a public persona and then we have a private persona. We have seen in it Bernie Madoff, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, Bill Jefferson, Oliver Thomas and many others. When we were kids, nobody wants to grow up and become like these people. All of us want to have a life free of duplicity and role playing. And as followers of Jesus, we all want to experience freedom from sin which then enables us to do the will of God. God has revealed to us through his Word our utter brokenness and sinfulness and the resulting separation from God. The moment every Christian begins to truly grow in Him is when we realize we’re completely dependent on Him for forgiveness. It is only then that we become free to fully yield our lives to God. But God does not leave us there. He has given us his Spirit to lead, transform and empower us to live as He intends. For “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
The problem is that living free is hard work. Americans have a saying that “Freedom is not free.” Freedom comes at a great cost. Similarly, grace is free but it is not cheap. It is freely given to all of us but it came at a great cost to God who gave his only Son to die on the cross for our sins. But it also comes at a great cost to us. Too often Christians miss out on the Spirit empowered life because of this. How do you enter into a Spirit filled life?
First you have to be broken by your sin. Peter in his first sermon on Pentecost Day said, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.” There’s the cost. You have to acknowledge your sins and that’s not just acknowledging you have sinned. Rather it is looking at your sin’s impact on God and your relationship to Him. It is looking in the face of God and seeing how your sin has not only disappointed God but grieved Him. It is coming to a point of being cut to the heart, of being so overwhelmed at the offense your sin is to God that it moves you to grieve. George Barna has found in his latest book, “Maximum Faith” states that this is the single most challenging step on the spiritual journey, that of “brokenness.” Most Christians stop short of brokenness because it is too painful and difficult to own about ourselves. But that is exactly where the people who heard Peter’s sermon were: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart…” Grace was not cheap for Jesus on the cross or for God who sacrificed his son for the sins of the world. But it is also not cheap for us as it leads us to brokenness and then utter dependence on God, opening the door for us to completely abandon ourselves and the world in favor of listening to and obeying God. It is only then the Holy Spirit begins to move in us. The crowd “said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” That grace and the power of the Holy Spirit is available to everyone. Who are the ones who are far off? You and me! What is the promise if we repent? You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.