Sentinels For Christ :: For Freedom Christ Set us Free

For Freedom Christ Set us Free

Posted by jimgrier on January 16, 2016

It was for freedom that Christ set us free..... Galatians 5:1; Luke 18 

The Galatians verse took on new meaning for me this fall as I spent 90 days in jail in Greeley Colorado courtesy of the Weld County Sherriff’s Alternative Programs.  Like many of you have experienced adversity in life in different forms you have known what it is to reach the end of a chapter or trial in your life and realize how what was difficult at the time was being used in the supernatural mystery of God to form something new that reflected God’s expression of grace working its way through your life in a way and manner only adversity can accomplish. 

And here I was the night before my release sitting in a Bible study with four men I had the privilege to share faith with, two I had introduced to Christ in my time in jail the others I had the privilege of attending church with at Calvary Chapel of Greeley.  I was getting out the next day, going home to my wife and kids and despite the obvious positive turn of events I knew this Bible study and time of fellowship was one of the most memorable events of close to four decades now of walking (sometimes towards often away from) with Jesus. 

I was grieved to be parting from these men who had become brothers. 

For our last study I selected (or had been compelled) to share from the 18th chapter of Luke the well known story of the Rich Young Ruler. Luke’s a great gospel for prisoners and the incarcerated; it’s got the only account of the prodigal son and event of the criminal on the cross who was crucified with the Lord. 

One of the shades of truth in the story of the Rich Young Ruler was how close he came to a life changing decision and missed the opportunity.  We’re not told what happened to him after his encounter with Jesus and as far as I know there is not any extra-biblical accounts of what might of what became of him but this much we do know.  He asked the Lord the same question that resides in the heart of every man and woman on the face of the earth. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is the same as asking what must I do to break free from the disappointments and pointlessness in this life and experience something real, something true that penetrates me at the deepest level and confirms there is something more.  This reality resides in all of us at our deepest level, Christian or not as life is full of disappointments and discouragements for all from the president to the prisoner.  As free will gifted human  beings our natural spiritual question is “What can or must I do to gain the eternal and break free from this temporal hell”  That’s pretty direct, not meant to be profane but I think it reflects more of our perspectives than not. 

The answer to this question is a supernatural truth and the key to unlocking everything all of us truly desire... the failure to resolve it or get it right means everything.  The truth is this: 

We can do nothing... 

That’s why Jesus responded back to the rich young man in Luke 18 with the impossible challenge, “Go get rid of everything you have give it all away, come and follow me without having all the answers into uncertainty and you’ll have what you desire..”  A definite liberty was taken in my paraphrase but I think you get the gist.  There was no way the young man could of done this, and in this was the answer, if he realized the impossibility of the task and truly understood how helpless he was as a human being to effect any worthy spiritual transformation in his life based on his own efforts we might have had a different ending to the story.  Adam and Eve experienced the same thing in the garden after the blew it and resorted to human efforts to try and cover the broken relationship with a holy and perfect creator, they tried to hide thinking to avoid the exposure of their actions and then on their own merit tried to argue with God after he confronted them on the folly of their choices. 

The Rich Young Ruler turns and leaves saddened because he “had much wealth,” he wasn’t willing to part with it, or able to.  I don’t think Jesus was communicating attaining heaven equaled him completing this task. That would be faith by works which the Bible is very clear on (Ephesians 2: 8-10), no Jesus would rather of had him realize heaven was only accomplished through the bridge of restoration offered in Jesus Christ himself.  If the young man truly recognized who he was standing in the presence of and what Jesus stood for two conclusions would have been drawn.  First was the understanding and appreciation of who Jesus was, (Gods Son) was the greatest treasure a man could have.  Second, restoration with God cannot take place unless a human being understands the total helplessness of their standing before God and the remedy of their condition is only accomplished by God himself, not human effort.  Anything less than this surrender to truth is apprehending salvation and diminishing the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I’m afraid the church is quite pretentious these days as terms like the depravity of sin have been replaced with “no at your core you’re really good.”  No we’re not, not in any way shape of form, even after salvation without Gods continual intervention we screw up (sometimes worse) than before.  What changes is our value which God maintains is realized as Christ righteousness is affixed to us.  I at my core am not a good man...

 I’m a redeemed man, there’s a huge difference. 

We all walk away from Jesus regularly, like the young ruler when God confronts some problematic area of our lives which stops the process of God conforming us to the image of his Son. If we are “saved” as the Bible teaches we realize in this midst of this supernatural tug of war that takes place as Gods spirit works within us (it will continue to happen until the day they place you in the grave by the way), we realize we are maintained as righteous and acceptable despite our shortcomings by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus who’s perfect life was feely handed to us by an invested Creator who never gave up on the world.  Human beings give up on each other regularly! 

The young ruler missed salvation by a small margin of perception concluding as most of us do there is something we can do to earn righteousness in the eyes of God.  We eve3n do this after our conversion by flaunting our accomplishments in the face of God in a silly delusion of self righteousness!  That’s why Jesus gave the young man the impossible task to see that what was impossible with men was only possible with God.  Check out the rest of the encounter verses 18 to 31 in the chapter and it all seems to make perfect sense. 

Sitting with my four brothers in Christ, on the last night of our time together in the facility, this simple truth appeared the most important thing we could share together.  Particularly as many of us had different experiences or “time in” Christ the one thing that brought and kept us together was this profound truth that our need for Jesus at the center of our beings was in fact the commonality that sewed us together despite incredibly diverse backgrounds origins and experiences it left us with what we needed: 

Profound gratefulness. 

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free”  This freedom was the knowledge deep in ourselves that we were in fact somehow supernaturally freed from what had chained and defined us in this world and in Christ we are something new.  We were all well aware our little fellowship was a manifestation of Gods timing in our lives that communicated this truth.  Freedom in Christ truly is the great leveling force between men and women. 

As the final night wound down and I retired to my bunk after our fellowship a little early, I was tired.  We all avoided saying goodbyes as for some reason it’s awkward in jail, but I knew laying on that bunk I had experienced something with these men as well as the other inmates in the facility that transcended the norms of life and had plunged me into an exclusive club.  Strange that might sound I’m sure coming from a convicted felon but true none the less.  Before I went to sleep someone had tiptoed over to my bunk and quietly laid a note on the chair by my bed.  It was a thank you for our camaraderie over the lasts three months from a man who had become not only a friend but confidant in his own right. 

            Jim: 

 I didn’t get to say good luck or anything t o you so I am writing this to say it.  Thank you for everything  you have done for me and thanks for being a friend.  I do appreciate all of it very much.  As soon as I get out and get a phone on I will call you and we will get together, thank you again for everything.  Take care and good luck - Stew

I wonder if Stew has any idea how much he did for me as well?  The privilege of being his friend and our discussions about Christ kept me going when I felt dejected and missed my family.  I hope when I’m sitting in our pews or seats with my family and planning what we’re going to have for lunch after church; or when I’m fellowshipping together in the warmth and comfort of our my homes in the midst of friends when life is good, I take the experience of jail with me and it keeps me authentic.   

I left (was released) the Weld County Work Release Program at 4:00 am the next morning.  The release from incarceration is one surreal experience.  It was bitter cold as I scraped the ice of my vehicle in the parking lot.  I took one last look at the facility and took a picture so I would remember the moment and reminded myself “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.”  The reality was even when incarcerated... in Christ I was always “free.” 

I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus, face to face. I think we are going to have a chuckle over this experience.  It seems pretty small now in the scheme of things with all the tragedy going on in the world today.  Thank you Jesus for always having my back... 

J.P. Grier - M.S. Counseling

J.P Grier is the founder and writer at SentinelforChrist com – Sentinel-For-Christ is a network of Christian men helping each other to press deeper in Christ.

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