Summary: It is really hard to keep up the pretence of being a perfect Christian. It si so hard that you will probably lose your faith.
Christian freedom – The problem of perfectionism
In recent messages we have talked about the things that affect our Christian Freedom. How when we normally claim that we are free people that we automatically accept limits on our freedom. Limits based on cultural limits which might affect freedom of another person. We compared our secular freedom to a Christians freedom which simply came down to a choice to live a sinful life or a choice to attempt to live a righteous life… the third choice of Christian freedom was to attempt to just be a pew potato, but, I suggested that our human nature would lead us to making a choice which most often lead people in the direction of a sinful life.
It is Jesus that came into the world to give us that Choice.. Man as described in the Bible has proven time and time again what happens when we are totally free…..however, that is exactly what God has allowed.
Last week We looked at Paul’s description in Galatians 5 ….of people that desperately wanted to be on the right path…however, that right path led people on the journey under the law. We looked at a few general categories related to what God is like and briefly identified what kind of rule systems or laws were required for our faith and salvation to be assured …..Each type forced us either by our standards or by the standards of other people to live in a certain way to gain God’s favor.
We find it far too easy to limit our freedom and to trap ourselves into special little sets of beliefs and rules as a way of proving our relationship with God enabled through our relationship with Christ.
Let me summarize Christian freedom so far with just two points….Jesus the Christ came into the realm of human time and space to set us free from a bondage, slavery to sin and ultimately death…He came to set us Free…and free means free.
Second, we are encouraged by Paul to choose to use our freedom in serving Christ and in living people as a way to stay of a path that has lasting joy and promises and keeps us connected to Christ and to creation especially to love people ….
I don’t know how you feel but Paul always seems like such a giant of the faith. He endures harsh treatment from the Jews and the Romans and even other Christians and trials both physical and legal.
He writes these letters correcting what the churches were hearing from false teachers. For the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ he traveled thousands of miles in a day when traveling was difficult and dangerous.
Last week we read his call to Christians to be free… But how can any of us measure up to all the stuff that he endured and did and even the details that he stressed in his letters?
He set the bar pretty high, the ideal that he describes is hard enough, but his demonstration of faith in Jesus Christ is impossible for us to even consider copying.
Do any of you remember the children’s story the “The Little Engine that Could.” I remember a lot of details about it. The general story is about getting toys and good food to children on the other side of a mountain. The train breaks down and is passed by engines that were too busy important or too tired to help. Then the little blue engine switch engine comes by and agrees to help.
"I think I can," puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."
As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, "I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can." It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, "I thought I could, I thought I could."
Personally, I have loved that story since long before I could read.
For many people Christian Freedom means that we our Christian journey is like the story and we are expected to respond to the impossible task of reaching perfection…by saying I think, I can, I think I can….until we complete our journey …
But that is not what we learn from Paul’s experience.