2 Corinthians 3:17. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 6:8-10. through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
What is freedom for the Christian? What does it mean to be free? And how does freedom apply to the life that Paul is describing – the crucified life?
Look again at Paul’s description of his own life and ministry in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10. The Christian life is the the life of the cross. The cross was simultaneous honor and dishonor, slander and praise. The cross was simultaneous dying and living. The cross was sorrow mixed with rejoicing. It was poverty that made others rich. It was having nothing while possessing everything.
We tend to see life as being two separate columns. The glory, good, nice life of God’s blessing column. And then the trials, sadness, mess, obviously you’re a bad Christian column. The goal then of the Christian life becomes to either move or stay in that “good” column, and stay out of the “bad” column.
I was talking to a friend today. Her life has been very chaotic and full of sorrow lately. I asked her how she was doing. She told me that she is tired. Tired of being sad. Tired of crying. Tired of her life being a mess. She spoke of getting past it all. Of figuring out how to not cry herself to sleep at night. She spoke of figuring out how to win.
I asked her why crying was “losing.” We talked about how her tired, sorrowful, messy life was actually the life of the cross. It is the place of grace. And how anything she would do to “win” or to figure out how to not cry, apart from crying out to God, would just be a form of works and a rejection of grace. We read 2 Corinthians 4 and 6 together. We talked about being jars of clay and how we are not called to ever stop being fragile, chipped, and tired jars. We looked at 6:8-10 and Paul’s description of a life that is BOTH dying and living, BOTH sorrowing and rejoicing, BOTH having nothing and having everything.
And this is freedom in Christ. True freedom is found in this place. When you are able to embrace the mess, the weakness, the tears, and cry out for God’s grace. When you can find that in the middle of the dying there is life. In the sorrow there is rejoicing. In the nothing there is everything. In the cross there is glory. Then you are free.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. “To live is Christ” is not the false freedom of being free from the sorrow, the mess, the crying, the dying, the punishment, the dishonor. It is the true freedom of NOT having to figure a way to get past and get over the mess. Rather, it is to find God waiting for you in the middle of the mess.
My friend told me that other Christians have told her that good Christians don’t keep crying, and they move on past their mess. I told her that if that is true then Paul was a really bad Christian.
How do you see the Christian life? Do you see it as moving from sorrow to rejoicing? From dying to living? From having nothing to having everything? Or do you see it as the liberty of living in grace filled space of the mess, the dying, the sorrow, the having nothing while embracing the joy, life, and riches of Christ? How does union with Christ allow us to be free from striving to move past our mess and rather embrace the grace of Jesus in the cross?
And now some good freedom jams!