Notes from Brother Jay

       This Tuesday, we celebrate a great day in the history of the United States.  July 4th, 1776 is known throughout the country as the day we rejected British rule and declared ourselves to be a self-governing sovereign nation.  Many of us will shoot off some fireworks, eat something from a grill, and enjoy family as we enjoy this yearly tradition.
        In the preamble of the Declaration stating the intentions of the 13 original colonies, the founding fathers invoked the idea of “truths” which exist independently from human opinion, coming instead from “their Creator.”  You’ve heard it.  It is said to be “one of the best known sentences in the English language:”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

        Paul talked about freedom, too.  Another word for liberty, Paul explained Christian liberty in several of his letters.  Radically different from political liberty, Christian freedom delivers us from the tyranny of sin and its ultimate result, death!  We don’t often talk about sin, perhaps because we don’t believe it’s a problem with a solution.  Paul would disagree.  In Galatians 5, he writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (5:1 NIV)  Most of us wouldn’t argue the fact that on occasion we do something God wouldn’t like much.  If we’re honest we might join Paul and admit we don’t like some of the things we do, or don’t do. (See Romans 7)  
        We are like the children of Israel enslaved in Egypt, then miraculously, and at great cost, delivered by God.   That’s our story, too, Jesus is offered in our stead.  That is, unless we choose to stay in our own little “Egypts,” and maintain our old selves.  Sara Groves wrote a song she calls “Painting pictures of Egypt.”  The chorus begins:

I've been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard
And I want to go back.

        The Christian life, our journey to the promised land with Christ, is about freedom from slavery to sin.  It’s a very difficult road, so difficult, G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult; and left untried.”  
        I remind myself often of life in Egypt, life before faith in Christ became my Reality.  Remembering keeps me from looking back with any longing.  I had enough of “Egypt” and its self-centeredness the first time around.  I don’t want anymore.  
        What about you?  Have you taken advantage of your freedom in Christ, to live the new life He offers?  I hope you have.  I pray you take the road less travelled, the road to real freedom!

Peace,

Brother Jay

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