Summary: God is looking for a people who serve Him freely; who worship Him voluntarily; who love Him as a reflex of the heart. NOT because they cannot choose anything else, but because they decide FOR Him. No other voice can truly tell how great and worthy God is
“Pierce My Ear”
On the last two Sunday mornings I’ve been talking to you about our freedom in Christ.
This week, on our television screens, most of us would have witnessed a striking picture of what freedom looks like. I’m talking about the liberation of Kabul in Afghanistan. For the past five years that city has been under the control of the ruling Taliban. Five years of the most oppressive sanctions imaginable: women forced to wear those suffocating veils, they were not allowed to be educated or to hold any professional positions. The men were forced to grow beards – they could be beaten if they shaved. No music was allowed in the city; no person was permitted to own a photograph of any living creature; children could not even fly kites; and on and on went the list of regulations.
The Taliban would claim that this was all very much accepted – even desired – by the Afghan people. That they were free and this was what they wanted. And it’s true that the people were never heard to voice of objections. Nobody dared!
But the true feelings of the people where finally released on Tuesday when the Taliban fled Kabul, and Northern Alliance armies secured the city. Within hours people danced in the streets to music blaring out from loudspeakers and radios. Men queued up to have their face shaven. A little boy ran in front of the TV cameras with a kite fluttering behind him – a grin from ear to ear. And we hope that those women will now quickly be given back their dignity, and their liberty.
Freedom is not any kind of freedom at all if there is no real choice. The people of Kabul were not free … until Tuesday.
The freedom we’ve been looking at in my last two messages – the freedom that God offers – is not some “bogus” kind of freedom. God doesn’t enslave people and then “call” them “free”. God’s freedom is real. Shockingly real! So real that His freedom can be rejected and it can be abused.
Why would God risk it? Have you ever thought about that? Why would He allow such freedom of choices – even ultimate choices – that human beings can (and frequently do) choose what grieves Him and destroys the perfection He has made. Why would He risk it?
This is a very important question why. Because it goes to the very heart of the eternal purposes of God. Magnificent God! The God Whose glory is too great that it should only be proclaimed by a captive audience. The devil would settle for forced praise – any note of worship he can get. But not God.
God is looking for a people who serve Him freely; who worship Him voluntarily; who love Him as a reflex of the heart. NOT because they cannot choose anything else, but because they decide FOR Him. No other voice can truly tell how great and worthy God is but a free voice.
Jesus said in John 4:23, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit AND TRUTH; for the Father is (actively) seeking such to worship Him.” Jesus says … here is the Divine quest of the ages. People who worship in TRUTH. Not by compulsion. From the heart – A FREE HEART.
This quest of God is as old as the Garden of Eden. He made a man and a woman for Himself and placed them in that garden, and entered into relationship with them. But as perfect as they were, their devotion could never be called “free” until a tree was placed in the garden - a tree that gave them the power of choice. God wasn’t trying to tempt them out of devotion (God never tempts anybody – the Bible says so.) He wanted to CONFIRM their devotion – to PROVE it. Here was a perfect opportunity for Adam and Eve to demonstrate that their worship was true, because their freedom was real.
God is seeking – always has been seeking – worshippers in spirit and TRUTH.
When Adam and Eve sinned, humankind LOST all choice. We became enslaved to sin. Eve thought that she was “picking” freedom – but she picked captivity. The will of man became bound to sin, and remained that way down through the generations … UNTIL … JESUS!
He set us free again. Free from the penalty of sin once and for all. And free from the ongoing power of sin over our lives – so we can choose to please and honour God.
“He whom the Son sets free is FREE INDEED!”
So, we’re free! Truly, wonderfully free. WHAT NOW?
Imagine a man who’s been locked up serving a life sentence for 25 years. He has dreamed of freedom and waited for it. Finally he is paroled. Imagine the morning he is released, and he stands just outside the gates of the prison for the first time in a quarter of a century – half his life. Bag in hand, wearing an old suit 25 years out of date. The guards leave his side and return within the prison doors. Here he stands – a free man.