Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Gospel Breaks The Mold

If we understand that the gospel frees us to love and to be spontaneous with our love, it begs the question; "What does that look like?" What does a life set free by grace free us to do? In considering the implications of the gospel, we love the question; "What will you do now that you don't have to do anything?"

However, our relentless desire to perform creeps in and asks; "O.k., now what? What must I be doing? What exactly does it look like to love this way?"

A friend shared this recent experience she had with her husband. They were both exhausted from the day and came together for a refreshing dinner out hoping to catch up and enjoy each other for the evening. As they sat at their table, a man nearby caught their attention. He was sitting alone and in a moment of spontaneous love they reached out and invited him to join them for dinner. It was sweet to hear her tell of this gesture because I couldn't help but think how loved this man must have felt.

Their dinner conversation included a discussion about a highly controversial issue and my friend commented to me that she struggled afterward with doubts. Did she say too much? Did she not say enough? Was what she said right?

We are asking the question these days; "What does the gospel have to do with our everyday lives?"

"How does it free us to live out of the overflow of the love we have been shown in Christ?" As I sat with my friend, that was the burning question in my mind. "How does the gospel meet her in her doubts and questioning?"

The gospel does not bind us to a prescribed set of actions and responses. Collective *sigh*. Because the gospel does not enforce rules of engagement for those loved by God, we are free. Free to respond or not respond. Free for me to respond a certain and for you to respond a different way. Free to respond one way today and another way tomorrow. Although all of this may sound elementary, the truth is we agonize over our doings ad nauseam! We believe (wrongly) that we have messed it up and have gotten it wrong. We plan ways we'll do better next time.

So what does this have to do with my friend and their dinner? For my friend and her husband, spontaneous love flowing from the gospel looked like an invitation to a lonely man. But, on another evening it could have looked very different. Suppose my friend and her husband meet for dinner after a long day and spontaneous love looks like an intimate dinner and rich conversation between the two of them, with a momentary glance toward the man at the table by himself? Both equal freedom.

Suppose that at the dinner with their new companion, the conversation was such that my friend felt no urge to speak. Or maybe she was compelled to speak clearly and completely on the topic. Both equal freedom.

Rooted and established in the gospel, we are free to respond. Our voices and deeds are freed from tight and constricting requirements. We're not actors on a stage reading lines from a script. The gospel unchains our hearts and hands. And the best part is that the gospel redeems our imperfect love. We don't have to regret and doubt and fear. We rest in the perfect love of Christ and the redemption in his eyes. "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Col 1:13-14

The gospel is freedom in action. The gospel loves and approves and accepts. The gospel is always a round peg in a round hole (perfect). The gospel is unpredictable, surprising and refreshing.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed"  Luke 4:18

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