Saturday, May 24, 2008

Constrained by Grace

Freedom is a word that is highly prized in our society, and for good reason. When we look at countries whose governments unduly restrict freedom we realize the despair that can occur when control is consolidated in the hands of a few. Freedom gives people opportunity and in opportunity progress grows.

Despite our love of freedom, considered thought will demonstrate that we want some barriers to be in place. Even the staunchest libertarians usually argue for some laws for without them lawlessness ensues. True freedom needs boundaries, otherwise people's basest desires rules and anarchy consumes culture.

The acknowledgment that freedom begets boundaries does not provide a lot of comfort to those who struggle with Christ because they want to be in control of their life. A life lived in denial to oneself and in pursuit of Christ's will necessarily means that freedom is restrained. We are no longer able to do what we desire because we seek to do what He desires. In doing so, we give up limitless freedom in exchange for limitless grace.

Therein lies the conundrum that so many people find insurmountable. The freedom that is sacrificed is not sacrificed to a dictatorial god. Instead the boundless blessings of grace compels us to live a life that is subservient to Another's will. Just as many of us give up the freedom to do what we want to do when we go to work for another, the benefits that grace affords causes us to live a life that is no longer dictated by our desires. In our human relationships, we will go to sporting events, watch TV shows, and shop at the mall because the person that we are in love with finds these things enjoyable. By the same token, we don't life our live however we want because grace that has beget love prompts us to live according to the things that Christ enjoys.

Maybe Robert Robinson said it best in the words to Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, a classic hymn with renewed popularity:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

May His grace prompt each of our hearts to love the things He loves, and to pursue His kingdom eternally.



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