Since the beginning of time mankind has not done well with freedom. When Jehovah God created man and woman, he placed them in a beautiful garden. They were naked and without shame. This nudity was not only physical, but emotional, social and intellectual. Yes, that means that at one point, man and woman actually understood each other completely. But with all the freedom they had in relationship as well as life in general, it was short lived. The downfall of the couple’s freedom was due to a single fruit tree placed in the middle of the garden and off limits as far as a food source goes. The ‘temptation’ to leave the tree alone was more than the couple could bear. Mankind failed to live in that freedom, sacrificing that freedom for the restrictions of sin.

 

Years later, the mistakes of mankind continued to grow more and more intense. Still, there was no formal set of rules, but mankind was allowed to live according to ‘whatever was right in their own eyes’. The increasing depravity of social conscience drove the creator God to destroy all but a small representation of the life he originally created.

 

And so the story goes. Israel was given freedom from the Egyptian Pharaoh only to long for the limitations of a false god shortly after their deliverance. The solution, was a relationship with creator God that was based on a strict set of laws and rules designed to govern virtually every aspect of social and religious life. Yet, the law was impossible to fulfill and only served to appease creator God. Real, and true relationship, was limited at best. Not because of God’s unwillingness to commune with man, but because of man’s inability to meet the requirements of a Holy God.

 

The only hope mankind had to regain the once-personal, intimate relationship with creator God was for His only Son to deliver them by paying, in full the price for the mistakes that dated back to the beginning of creation itself.

 

The coming of the Christ-child, His sacrificial death and death-defeating resurrection enabled and empowered mankind to rekindle the relationship lost in the Garden of Eden. God’s rules were in this new social order was simple. The long list of detailed laws and regulations was replaced by a simple request to love Him, and to love others. THAT is freedom.

 

Still, mankind has not learned. Our founding fathers came to this land over 200 years ago to escape the tyranny of the church and so seek a new land built on…you guessed it, freedom. Freedom to live, worship and co-exist due to our mutual humanity and not based on race, gender or creed.

 

Once again, the freedom was short-lived. True freedom speaks of no limits. True freedom assumes that those of us living in freedom will do so responsibly, taking into consideration how our actions affect those around us.

 

Way back in Biblical times, the Apostle Paul saw the same issues we see today. A group of people freed from the tyranny of rules, intent on putting limitations on our freedom. It’s the age-old conflict between license and liberty. The victims of the battle are often the very ones freedom was intended to influence. All to often the church 

 

Grace is about freedom to learn relationship with God first and mankind second. Grace does not guarantee perfection, nor does it demand anything from us other than to accept the gift and repent of our wayward lifestyle. As we grow in relationship to God, He reveals to us a way of life that is fulfilling, meaningful and full of love.

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