Read with me, “Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
God is a good Father. Life is good. But sometimes circumstances overwhelm us, and we find ourselves doubting and full of questions. Tyrannical demands on our time, increased demand on our performance, lack of finances, conflict within relationships, sinking businesses, and many other daily circumstances can lead to self-doubt, and God doubt, causing us to question His existence and consequently our own purpose. How often have you felt incarcerated by the unrealistic demands others have put on you to be or do something specific? Undue pressure can cause unwanted stress, resulting in an overburdened heart unable to cope. When we fail to do what we are called to, the result is usually a heart heavy burdened.
In much the same way, religious thinking has placed many undue burdens on people, causing a mass exodus of churchgoers. Holy living has been conflated by rigid religious beliefs. Religious thinking says don’t do this, look less like that, don’t say this, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t think, be less, do more, but only more of what you’re told. Holiness does not equal a demand for more work or effort on your part. On the contrary, living life in Christ affords us peace and rest. I have often heard people say that Christian living is restrictive. Religion is, for sure. But being alive in Christ is freeing.
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. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Galatians 5:1-2 Paul understood that when we work to deserve our freedom, we make Christ of no value. When working and slaving away becomes the epitome of our faith, we live a life of restrictions and paint God as tyrannical master. He is anything but. He is a Father inviting you today to do life alongside Him, free to live. Much of what we don’t do, or do, is a result of our world view. If we view fleshly indulgences as a way of living free, we fail to realize that those actions do have consequences. Sin has an impact on our lives; consequences will impact our quality of life. But a life in Christ is expansive if you will allow your heart to be free regardless of what your flesh demands. Free to do as you please is indeed not freedom, but slavery to sin. This is a narrow minded way of living. If you live only for gaining material things, and enjoying things that make your flesh comfortable, you live small. There is a way of living that translates into eternity, casting relevance to generations to come. Legacies are formed in the faith you display at Jesus’ feet. Many are the lies we tell ourselves in the name of self-preservation. Let go of your need for significance, and live significantly.
Do not place you heart under undue pressure by demanding of yourself to be perfect, or to do as much of the opposite as you can to prove you are free. Place your trust in the finished work of Christ, and be free to live. You do not need to abstain to the point of dying; you just need to know Christ and love on Him. There is an organic freedom cultivated when we spend time with Him, this is where the incessant need to performs usually dies. Sitting at His feet is usually where your need for recognition fades and every effort you have taken to work well seem irrelevant in the great scope of His acceptance. Your answer, just as Mary did, is to sit with Him, regardless of the hustle around you. Do not conflate holiness with business. Let the life you are given be a vast field of righteous opportunity to love on Him, dedicating your moments to His feet, serving Him with a heart that lets stand that which can wait another moment. Because He is worthy, and life is worth living.