I want to talk about freedom and grace. Both are vital to following Christ. I heard someone say this once: you belong, and then you believe, and then you behave. Freedom and grace are about belonging. Both are a part of the foundation of Love that God would split the heavens to give us. Inhale. Exhale. Let’s talk about the two things that usher us into being sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God.
Freedom and Grace. Do you ever see one apart from the other? Freedom is what happens when we begin to understand that grace is a field, not a tightrope. God never asked us to perform an impossible balancing act of holiness, direction, and poise. But He does invite us to know His Son whose extravagant love is the door to abundant life (John 10:9-10). Freedom is what happens when we begin to understand that God isn’t keeping score, He’s on his hands and knees in the dirt with us, lifting our eyes up to see the field of grace in which we live. Following Jesus isn’t supposed to look like holding your breath and bracing for impact. We weren’t created to fear failure and expect punishment. We weren’t created to shield our fragile frames with accomplishments and good deeds. We were created to run wild into a grace that is so good it’s backwards. This grace is fatal to our pride because it says that God gets the final say, and He’s already said yes. This grace is dangerous because it opens the door to a never-before-created identity (2 Corinthians 5:17). This grace is wild because it gives permission to God’s children to live guilt-free and fear-free. Grace is risky, but it’s also the soil of freedom.
Grace says God thinks differently about our lives than we do. He doesn’t look at our successes and failures the way we do. What we foolishly weigh and measure is actually seen through the eyes of acceptance and pride. What we’re ashamed of is simply clay, still soaking with process. God can work with it. There’s nothing in all creation that can’t be healed and molded with Love. There’s nothing that God can’t turn to good. Even better, what makes us cringe about ourselves, actually makes God explode with compassion. He’s better than you think. He’s a good Father. Once, He split the heavens open just to tell His Kid how proud He was (Matthew 3:17). Turns out, God is on our side before we even do anything for Him. He’s already seated us in heaven (Ephesians 2:6). God knows how the story ends with you. He’s not worried or in a hurry. He’s confident in Himself and He’s confident in you. He has no problem taking time to adore you and be pleased with you. He gives you the Kingdom joyfully (Luke 12:32), and He’s in no hurry to watch as you become more and more like His Son.
I used to think God withdrew from me when I got messy, now I know He leans in. He doesn’t hate the mess; He doesn’t recoil when we make mistakes; He doesn’t pick and choose what He likes about us. He likes it all. There’s nothing we can do to surprise God, therefore nothing we can do to disappoint Him. “God is never disillusioned by you; God never had any illusions about you in the first place” (W.P. Young) That’s grace. It’s the movement of God towards us, not away from us. It’s God’s deliberate, joyfully made decision to make an eternal covenant with us, bones and mess and all.
The freedom we receive when we understand grace, that we are not just chosen but genuinely accepted, is unparalleled. Our freedom can only be made real when we drop the chains and facades of guilt and fear; when we understand that Christ is never self-conscious, and therefore totally comfortable welcoming a ragamuffin into His presence. Freedom begins when we loosen that white-knuckle grip we have on the lies we believe about ourselves. “God knows you for who you truly are and grieves for the distance between that truth and what you believe about yourself” (W.P. Young). Freedom is simply agreeing with God about our identities. He made us in His image for His glory. Freedom knows that God’s character is unchanging, so we don’t have to waste time being uncertain of how He feels about us. Before the beginning, there wasn’t just God. There was The Trinity. Each a piece of God, giving and taking Love. And it is in that image of Love in which we were made. A love that doesn’t just run out. We are secure in Love and accepted in Grace. Freedom happens when you dare to believe it. It’ll be scary, because freedom after slavery always feels uncomfortable. But we’re brave. So walk into it. I triple dog dare you.