It seems to me that, these days, a lot of Christians are gearing up for a fight. The cry of William Wallace echoes in the air, rising up from nearly three decades ago where campaigners and dynamic preachers and prophets were shouting from pulpits everywhere: “You will not take our freedom!”
We paint our faces blue and prepare to face down tyrannical governments, secret societies, and religious organisations who openly flout the fundamentals of our carefully guarded God-shaped ideology.
What will we give to protect our beliefs about Him? What are we willing to pay to protect the rights we believe we’re entitled to?
I think of another preacher, perhaps shouting from the proverbial pulpit of his day. The apostle Paul writes to the Galatians,
“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. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Yes, Jesus, our saviour, has come to rescue us from slavery. He has come to set us free, indeed! But this is a freedom from the kingdoms and rulers and spiritual forces of this world. Even now, the children of God are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. This world is not our home.
He sets us free from the tyranny of pride and of sin. He liberates us to live inside the flow of His transformative love in every moment of every day. This is the battle we fight. Our enemy enslaves us by convincing us to live as though we are gods and by convincing us that we are somehow responsible to earn the salvation that has already been purchased for us. Our battle is not and never will be between flesh and blood. We do take up arms against our oppressors: our flesh and the devil. We cry out, “I will not live outside of love.”
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” (Colossians 3)
There is a great irony surrounding this rising battle-cry that we must take up arms against a leftist, socialist, communist regime. It’s a false battle and one which, in itself, enslaves us. It puts the children of God in a position of subjectivity to the kingdoms of this world.
But our God is not passive. He is in and through all things. He works all things together for our good and His glory.
This is an awakening of the sleeping bride. Yes! She must awaken. But she will not draw a sword and swing against legislature, against policy, against differing theological minds. No. She will awaken, she will open her eyes and see the earth from the view of the King of all kings. She will open her mouth and declare the everlasting love of an incomprehensible God. She will stretch out her arms and comfort the lost, the broken, and the dying all around her. This is the way of Love.
Do we think it’s not enough? Do we think that love is no match for oppression? Do we think that love is no match for bad theology? Do we think that love is no match for tyranny?
If so, then we must think again. Self-sacrificial love destroyed the kingdom of darkness. Love swallowed up death. This is the love that lives inside of us. This is the love that flows, always, from the heart of God. This is the love that will break forth like the dawn and continue to change the world.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (Isaiah 58)
We have nothing to fear! Our God is with us, always. Jesus tells us to consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. They don’t worry or toil, and yet our heavenly Father cares for them and provides for them. How much more valuable are we to Him? How much more?
No, there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8)
The world is afraid. The world is in darkness. We are the light of the world. Now is the time for the sons and daughters to be revealed. Now is the time for us to rise up, like the sun at daybreak. Across the earth, the light of love bursts forth like beacons of hope. We will be known by our love. This is the only thing we must be known by. Love.