Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Abundantly Free! - Ephesians 1:7

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people--free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! 8He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

How horrible it must be to live in a third-world country, under a cruel dictator. In some societies, if a man looks at another man’s wife, his eyes are gouged out. If he steals, his hand is cut off. Often death is the punishment for even the most minor crimes.

Even here in America, do any of us know what it means to be free? Sure we live in a free society, but there are still rules and restrictions. If you break the law, you pay a penalty, either with money or time served, depending on the crime. As I used to tell my children to keep them in line, “If you do the crime, you’ll do the time.” I had a no nonsense attitude, and let them know that I would back up any authority of the law if they ever messed up.

But, what about me? How often do I “mess up” under God’s authority? Often. Sometimes on a daily basis. Those ten commandments are tough. Not the biggies like “Thou shalt not kill,” although Jesus furthered that rule by saying if you do it in your heart it’s the same thing. The penalty for breaking these laws is death. Wait a minute! Does that make God a cruel dictator?

Unlike human leaders with their own flaws, God is perfect. And He created his list of laws because He loves us, and doesn’t want us to die in sin. Yet chiseled on those two stone tablets is my death sentence. I can’t possibly keep all of those rules, especially as laid out by Jesus who, in essence said, “If you think it, so shall it be.” Yikes!

I can testify that God is not a cruel dictator. He’s given us this wonderful verse that explains Who has paid our penalties. The Messiah. Jesus, who made those rules even harder, took our punishment. It should have been our blood spilled, our eyes gouged, or our hands cut off…our death. But Jesus Christ paid it all, once, for all mankind. We are now a free people. And not just barely free, as if we could lose it at any moment. No, we’re abundantly free! Forever!

Thank you, Lord, for the cross. You set the rules, and yet You also paid the penalty because You knew we couldn’t possibly be perfect. Sin took care of that when it entered our world through Adam and Eve. You required a blood sacrifice, then you provided that sacrifice. Help us to accept that sacrifice as our own. Help us to understand that we’re not just barely free, but abundantly free!