The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come (Luke 4:18-19 NLT).
Friend to Friend
When I grew up in the church during the 1980’s, my grandmother and her friends hid a shocking secret underneath their fabulous Sunday hats. Those elegant hats were adorned with fluffy feathers, giant bows, and decorative nets. They anchored those hats to their heads with a legion of bobby pins just in case they felt like jumping up and down as the gospel music started to “get good.” So, what was their secret? My grandma and her friends didn’t style their hair underneath their hats! In time, those hats became a symbol of the kind of Christianity that I witnessed and lived much of my early life: Your life might be a mess on the inside, but as long as you look good on the outside, that’s all people care about.
I grew up in a church that had a lot of rules like no running in church, stay quiet during the sermon and church attendance is mandatory or else something bad might happen to you. I followed the rules, but I questioned why the rules made me more afraid of God instead of feeling more faithful to God. I lived in fear that God would give me a big “whammy” if I ever messed up.
A few years after leaving home, I found myself staring at two lines on a pregnancy test. I was an unmarried, 19-year old college sophomore. More than my fear of telling my parents or facing the people at my church, I felt trapped by my guilt and shame. I was terrified that God would punish me severely for my mistake.
Unfortunately, we believe the lie that God’s love for us is based on our performance. Therefore, we pressure ourselves to perform for God by jumping through what I call the “to-do,” “do-more,” or “do-better” religious hoops to keep God happy. Yet, the reality is that God never asked us to jump through those hoops for Him. Rather, God sent Jesus to rescue and bring freedom without asking us to do a thing to earn it.
Long ago, Jesus stood up before his hometown crowd to declare that the Good News prophesied to them long ago had finally arrived. God’s people could be freed from the influence of the religious rules-police, who twisted God’s instructions for holy living into man-made rules that pressured the people with fear (Matthew 23:4). Here’s what Jesus told the crowd that day and it’s the same message of freedom for us now:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19).
Regardless of what you’ve done – or failed to do, Jesus has already set you free from the penalty of your sin and the pressure to follow religious rules. What does Jesus’ declaration of freedom mean for you? Freedom in Christ is living free from fear and fully alive in God’s joy and purpose. When we are free, we find joy in connecting with God, not fear or dread.
As you reflect on your Christian life today, what religious rules have you followed out of fear? Today is the perfect day for you to declare, “Jesus set me free from following religious rules so that I could enjoy a relationship with God and walk by faith!”
Dear God, thank You for the gospel that saved my life! I couldn’t save myself. In fact, I still can’t save myself! Open my eyes and reveal the religious rules that keep me in fear and away from truly enjoying my relationship with You. I want to live each day free from fear and fully alive in Your joy and purpose.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
When do you feel like you’re just one mistake or sin away from God sending you a big “whammy” or that He’s out to get you?
What religious rules do you long to be free from in order to enjoy a no-fear, loving relationship with God?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s new Bible study, Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ. This six-week Bible study on the book of Galatians teaches you how to find freedom from following religious rules and any fear of not being enough for God. Barb’s study includes six powerful Freedom Principles and application exercises that equip you to break free from fear and experience God’s great adventure of joy and purpose for your life.
© 2021 by Barb Roose. All rights reserved.