Tenth Avenue North – “The Struggle” (Devotional)
I wish someone had told me sooner, that someone would have just articulated it in a way that I could understand. I wish I had actually read the Bible. Growing up I went to church and a Christian school, but somehow, I completely missed the freedom that was being offered to me from Christ Himself.
“Hallelujah we are free to struggle, but we’re not struggling to be free.”
People freak out when you say something like that. “Free to struggle!!????” They think you’ll take it as license to do whatever you want. And you know, some do. Some say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter what I do, cause God will forgive me!” But just because there are some who pervert the grace of God, doesn’t mean we should shy away from preaching it. Yes, some people don’t understand what they’ve been saved from. They don’t realize how audacious it is to presume upon the redemption of God, because they don’t realize what it cost Him to forgive us. They also must not think about what they’ve been saved from. It’s not just our guilt He saves us from, it’s also the power of death over us.
Why on earth would anyone ask Jesus for salvation and then willfully run back into the arms of the very things that were killing them? I can’t say that I know. I don’t understand why I do it, so how could I begin to understand others?
But this I do know. His grace is so big and so vast that Christ went lower than the lowest. He bore our sins on the cross, and it is no longer up to us to carry that weight. We no longer have to atone for our mistakes. They were atoned for us. And not only is there an ocean of grace that we fall into when we fail, but there’s also a grace so majestic and strong, that it’s actually powerful enough to heal us from our vices and free us from our prisons.
Christ came to forgive and to free us. I hope you know that, deep down.
You can screw up and know that there is always mercy to rise again. And not only that, but you can know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is living inside you, So, you don’t have to do those things you hate anymore. Free to fail. Free to change.
It’s quite an amazing concept isn’t it? There’s mercy for your failure, and there’s liberty from your sin. You don’t have to pay for your sins, and you don’t have to sin anymore. This is what it means to be saved.
And my only prayer is that the church would grasp both of these ideas, because we can all be a bit one-sided, can’t we? We tend toward extremes. One only needs to count the number of Christian denominations to know, we’re not always the best at balance. In the American church, we can be good at one of these platitudes, but usually not both. We’re either focused on preaching grace or intent on preaching victory, which ends up doing one of two things. We pander those caught up in sin, or we Bible beat them cross-eyed for not walking in the victory they ought to be.
Brothers and sisters let us grasp them both. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and there’s also no more chains to keep you from walking with Him. Both. And. Comfort those who are staggering, because we all struggle in different ways. We may look different, but our hearts are all the same. Be tender with one another. Correct each other with gentleness, knowing we’re free to struggle. But also, let us not let each other off the hook. Remind each other, that we’re not struggling to be free. Call each other out. Lift each other up. Push each other forward. It is for freedom we have been set free.