Welcome and thanks for participating in day 13 of the ARISE fast and devotional blog. If you haven’t read the previous days, please go back and read them before reading todays, as these thoughts will build off of one another. 

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  – Nelson Mandela

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We love our Freedom and celebrate it with fireworks every July 4th. We sing songs about it, create art because of it and make pledges to it. Freedom is important to us!

 We are free to drive as fast as we want… until we see flashing lights in our rear view mirror… 

 We are free to spend as much money as we can charge… until the bank comes to repossess those things…

 We are free to drink as much alcohol as we desire… until the bottle takes away your job, your spouse, your kids and your life…

 We are free to eat as much ice cream as we like… nope… not going there!

 My point is, we’re not nearly as “free” as we like to pretend. When freedom is abused, those freedoms are taken away (you’re grounded), and laws are created to prevent freedom from being misused. Have you ever wondered why we have laws? Laws are established to prevent abuse of freedom. Because, believe it or not, people might use their freedom to hurt, extort or exploit another person.

 With time, laws are added to laws, and a web of complicated rules are built. Why? Because laws enforce cultural values. When cultures are young, those values control a citizen from within. But as the culture degrades, laws are required. 

 There is only 2 ways to control a person. From the inside and from the outside. From their conscious or from the laws of the land.

 As culture disintegrates, these laws undergird the framework in an attempt to hold to the values of the culture… values the culture may no longer hold.

 Not only has this been the experience of the land. It has also been the experience of the church. What started out as a movement of love for God and our neighbor, dissipated into an institution that tried to manipulate people into loving God and well… the neighbor was usually lost along the way. For centuries the Catholic Church used their office to manipulate people into coming to church and giving. They taught that only through their sacraments could a person attain heaven, and if you wanted their sacraments, you had to follow their laws. So what was once done in joy because of the culture of loving God and loving people, was now done out of religious compulsion.

 Religious rules attempt to replace lost passions and convictions.

 At the heart of the early church movement was a love for God and people. It was not coerced, manipulated or forced… that came later when the movement became an institution. Yet still to this day, as our movement wains, rules are established. 

 Where once we didn’t desire to drink because of our relationship with Jesus… now it’s no drinking or else you’re kicked out of the church. Where once we didn’t want to dress provocatively and dishonor God… now it’s no shorts above your knees or you’ll be talked to. We once went to church because we loved Jesus… now we go because our parents will give us a hard time if we don’t.

 Rules replace real reverence…

 “Have to”, replaces “get to”…

 People of the movement don’t attend church because they have to. They attend because they get to. They don’t give because they fear God’s curse on their finances, they give because they love God and His people. They don’t serve to get a badge on their Boy Scout sash, they serve because Jesus served and they want to be like him,

 People of the movement share their life out of a spirit of freedom. Freedom to do good, not just fear evil.

 Institutions try to regulate people’s freedom to prevent them from sin. People of the movement use their freedom to serve God and serve people.

 JOIN THE MOVEMENT

 Esse Quam Videri,

 Pastor Brent

 Meditate and reflect on this verse and questions: 

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

1. What rules do churches create to protect their culture?

2. Why do you practice spiritual disciplines? (Why are you fasting and/or reading this devotional?) What’s going on in your heart?

3. How have you been tempted to use your freedom inappropriately? 

 Pray:  

 – Pray that God would help you in using your spiritual freedom wisely. 

 – Pray that your heart’s motivation would be to love God and love people with so much passion that you would never need religious rules.  

 – Pray that God would give you discernment to spot legalism and not fall prey to its’ unwarranted rules.