Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

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“I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”—Romans 1:14-17

In reading the current November/December edition of Holiness Today on human sexuality, you may find yourself asking, “What has happened that caused us to be considering the issues we are facing both in society and the church?” For some, the temptation to withdraw from difficult topics of conversation might appear to be the safer and more appealing alternative. Others find it invigorating to engage in current issues that spark debate. Either way, Paul’s words to the church in Rome have a way of guiding us as we navigate these and other issues of our ever-changing world.

This month we will seek to take a closer look at the foundation that Paul used to explain how our freedom in Christ actually works. Just like the foundation in a house provides the needed stability that allows pictures to be hung on walls and furniture to be set in place, so does our theological foundation. Upon completion of a house remodeling project, no one says, “Wow, I love what you did with the foundation!” Instead, you (and others) enjoy the benefits of the foundation as a new coat of paint and updated furnishings are applied.

However, if the foundation is not solid, no amount of decorations will adequately cover the growing cracks in the walls.

Similarly, Paul’s letter to the Romans has provided a theological foundation that leads the believer to freedom in Christ. This newfound freedom allowed the church in Rome to face the issues of their time just as it does for us today. When Paul was writing this letter, he had not actually met the people who would receive it. Perhaps that gave him the vantage point needed to address the wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives of the Roman believers.

Paul said, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome” (Romans 1:14-15). In other words, “Although I’ve never met you, I am so excited about who God is and what He wants to do in your life. It’s not your status or background that matters. Rather, it’s the foundation of your belief in God that deserves attention as you live this life of faith. That’s why I’m excited to talk with you about the good news!”

As God’s people, we need to remember who we are in Christ as we face the changing and challenging landscape of our culture. Our biblical theology provides the foundation for the way in which we seek to understand how God is working in our lives. With this in mind, read how Paul worships God: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

So, how do we worship God? Far too often, we allow the issues of our culture to dictate how we worship.

Constant news feeds, social media posts, and conversations with others have a way of shaping our worldview—perhaps even to the point of leading us to forget the foundation on which our faith is built.

If Paul were to write a letter to us today, it may sound something like this: “I just want you to know that the good news of Jesus Christ has filled me. It has changed me in ways I never dreamed possible. The deeper I allow it to sink into the core of my being, the more I experience God’s power at work within me. You see, even though I thought I had it all figured out, I was so far away from God when He found me on that dusty road. But that day when I finally received His love and grace, God began changing the foundation on which I now base my entire life. And the reality is, He can do the same for you as well.”

Prayer for the week: God, today I choose to worship you and give thanks for the good news that has set me free. Help me to embrace the foundation of truth that you have given me through your Word. Amen.

Jim Thornton is the lead pastor at Tulsa Hills Church of the Nazarene in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

Written for Coffee Break.