In the days prior to 2020, I remember the Sunday mornings gathered with the saints singing hymns and songs of worship. Words of confidence as these, lifted to heaven’s throne:
“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”
“As He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”
These songs, like many others, are bold statements of our faith and hope. Looking back, I often wonder the times I took for granted the privilege to sing these songs when life was more at ease. Did I regard the depth of what I proclaimed? Was it more than feel-good sentiments? I think most of us would agree that when life gets hard and messy, it exposes our idols and eliminates every false sense of security around us. The past year has certainly challenged me to confront my faith and the words I sing every Sunday morning such as:
“Jesus is better,”
“I am restless ‘till I rest in you,”
“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus Christ, my righteousness.”
I could go on, but my point is that when life gets hard, do I still believe all this to be true? We are human, no doubt, and we know that the world is a deadly place … ever since the Garden of Eden, suffering is certainly nothing new to humanity. The consequences of sin entering our world are inescapable. Like shrapnel from a bomb, it cuts and pierces us, every aspect of our society, and, in the wake of it, it is difficult to not grow discouraged and even feel at a loss for hope.
The world would have us believe that the greatest thing to fear could be all kinds of things — sickness, political instability, or society and its further withdraw from biblical truth. These are valid concerns indeed, but are they our ultimate fear? For what causes us certain death without Jesus Christ? The answer is sin.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” -Romans 3:23-26
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:16-23
Jesus leads us to a certain life that does not decay or dimmish. Knowing this, how shall we live out our short days here on earth? What are we slaves to? What remains in the forefront of our thinking and the posture of our hearts compels us to live in a way that is rooted in hope and obedience, not in fear and sin.
That is not to say the devastating effects of this broken world should mold us into stoic and unbreakable soldiers of God. It means we do not let the brokenness around us ultimately restrain and enslave us.
From our birth to the grave, we will indefinitely experience our share of suffering. Christ Himself was not exempt. But we do not have to experience it alone or without the great hope that awaits us. Do you fear you are not strong enough? Read below.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Rest in those words. Lay down the façade and deception of being self-sufficient and having it all together. Or the façade that there is no moving forward. Lay. It. All. Down. Strongholds caused by fear, depression and loss are broken-down when we root ourselves in Christ and Christian community. Life is a gift and deserving to enjoy, yet suffering will always come and attempt to rattle the foundation of what we profess to rest on. Let us challenge ourselves and each other to see God, the building of our faith, and the furthering of His kingdom as the ultimate goalpost by which we confidently sing,
“I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”