“(Re) Born Free”
Here today we come as one. The old and the young. All different in earthly wealth, occupations and interests. Yet we meet today in faith as one body knowing we are free in Christ and knowing that through that faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour, that the chains of our sin have been taken from us and given the promise of being the Sons and daughters of God the Father both here in this world and in the world to come, I ask what could there ever be to want for or worry of.
But then I remember a speech from Nelson Mandela after apartheid was turned over in South Africa where he said (I cannot remember exactly but the point meaning) “we are now free people, but before us we still have the great battle to realise what freedom is and what it is to live in it”.
Free in Christ that are just words on paper if we don’t know what they stand for. But words that become alive and part of us when we realise the gravity of what has gone before that we may hear them for ourselves.
I really did not want to go over old ground, but I feel I must. At six years old I announced to my Mother that “there is something God wants me to do but I just don’t know what”. Thirty seven years later and having been just accepted to study towards ordination in the church I was confronted by a man whose world had turned on him. A man whose immense courage and strength had been replaced with fear and weakness and for the next three months I essentially became his pastor as he came to understand our Lord who does not look to punish and take life from those who turn from him, but our Lord who looks to reward and give life to those who trust him and in his last months he truly came to that trust like that of a little child and those words that I said to my mum all those years ago, once forgotten came back to me and I said to Cathy that, that was the moment that God had prepared for me my whole life. But then, just into my studies came the inner fight “you’ve done what it was, so leave”. I sought advice from those close to me in the church and from those close to me outside the church and that all offered the same advice-to stay, it was of no comfort to me and after weeks of internal warfare, beaten and bruised one night I laid at the Lords feet in prayer and over and over for hours begged for an answer. I cannot actually remember falling to sleep but when I woke I had the clearest words implanted that I have ever known, the non-judging and even comforting words of “it didn’t have to end this way”, followed by “know my word” and that I still don’t know and understand them all, I do understand those that bring freedom in Christ.
The Words of God the Father, the creator who always was and always is who gave His only Son to be shackled, beaten, tortured and killed only to weep for those inflicting the pain and ask His Father “to forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Shackled, beaten, tortured and un-merciless killed on the cross that those shackled, beaten and tortured in their sin and lives can kneel at the foot of His cross and be given mercy in Him that they may be restored and rise and walk in His freedom.
You and me here today and all those who believe and trust in our Lord and Saviour, though we fail-His success is ours, and though we our sin lives in us-we live in his righteousness, washed clean in His blood and accepted spotless before a God of love. Our God, God the Father. You and me, we are free in Christ to walk without fear or anxiousness of how we stand before our Father in heaven. Yet a freedom that the powers of darkness who with any means possible look to confuse and deny. The powers of darkness who tell Christians the truth of our sin to take that freedom, but the powers of darkness who lie to Christians of the consequences and have us not know that “there is no condemnation for those in Jesus Christ” (Romans 8.1).
Like to those Mandela spoke, that we know “we are now free people”, we still have that daily battle before us to realise what freedom is and what it is to live in it”.
Free in Christ to say I don’t know how baptism works but I know it does because I know the cost of our Lords life behind the promise “That those who believe and are baptised will be saved”.
Free in Christ to know that though in ourselves we have no right to approach Our Lord, but knowing in Him who gave His Body and Blood for us we come to stand or kneel at the alter in Holy Communion knowing that in His sacrifice we restored to walk forgiven and given life and salvation.
And free in Christ to evoke His name before God the Father and take it to him in prayer and know the words of 1 John 5:14-15 for ourselves, that “this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him”, and so “rejoice always; pray without ceasing. And in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Free in Christ to live in His freeing truth that some of us heard so well said in bible study on Thursday.
“A little boy brought a fistful of dandelions to his florist father who made beautiful arrangements from exquisitely lovely flowers. The boy came into the florist shop with a fistful of wilted dandelions that he had picked in a field. Without a word, he looked up to his father and shyly handed the dandelions to him. The father gladly accepted the fistful of dandelions. He told his son that they were beautiful. He took a vase, filled it with water, put the flowers into the vase, and placed it onto the middle of the counter so that everybody who came into the store that day could see the beautiful gift that his little boy had brought him”.
We are free in Christ to know His word for ourselves and free to honor Him by bringing our lives of wilted dandelions before him and calling upon Him in our day of trouble, that He may rescue us. Amen.