Freedom to serve

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This verse has long fascinated me. “O Lord, truly I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds” (Psa. 116:16). The psalmist makes a intriguing connection between bondage and freedom. He claims to be a “servant” yet “loosed.” Is this not the beautiful paradox of the Christian? Loosed, but bound. Free, but still a captive. Released to be ruled by Love. The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Living in the Gospel

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Someone says, “Listen, God doesn’t have time for your little problems. He is busy in the Middle East right now. He has bigger fish to fry. If you want something for yourself, you better get is the best way you can: buy this product and you will be important; wear these clothes and everyone will realize how distinguished you are; read this book and the knowledge will set you a cut about the crowd. Take care of yourself.”

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That sounds good, we begin to respond. And then we hear Paul’s indignant, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ.” Instinctively, immediately, we know that he is right. The only good news that will make a difference is that the living God personally addresses and mercifully forgives us. He sets things right at the center.

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This is what we need, what we want. We determine and we will not abandon the free life of the gospel and live in the fantasy dreams that others paint for us and then sell to us for a fee. We will live forgiven and in faith, not as a parasite on others, but creatively for others. We will not mope or cringe or whine. We will praise and venture and make.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Living the Message

On the Crushing of Grapes

grapes_narrowweb__200x263God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers he uses to crush us with. If God would only use his fingers to make me broken bread and poured out wine in a spiritual way! But when he uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made wine to drink, we shall have to be crushed. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed. You can not drink grapes.

–Oswald Chambers

A God who stoops

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I search in vain through non-Christian systems for one authentic note of the self-giving, serving God. True, there is service as a royal dispenser of favors and benefits; but this is deeper, for here is service by a Servant.

He did not merely bend over to hand out,
he bent over to get under.

He stooped under the poverty and the toil, the sin and the shame, the troubles and the toil—under the very lives of fallen men, and when there was nothing left to get under, he got under the cross and bore that for them.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of Every Road

The glorious paradox of grace

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Truly I am your servant, Lord . . .
you have freed me from my chains.
–Psalm 116:16 NIV

Here is a fascinating combination!

Freed—but serving.

Loosed—but bound.

Liberty and servitude. How can we put these two opposites together?

The Gospel joins them in a glorious paradox.

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Our chains have been broken, but our hearts are captured by Calvary love. Our bonds have been loosed, but we willingly become bondservants of our Redeemer.

Grace emancipates and captivates.

Charles Wesley said it so well:
          My chains fell off, my heart was free,
          I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Absolute autonomy quickly leads to new tyrannies. It doesn’t take long for total freedom to turn into servitude to new masters and new vices.

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“Liberty too can corrupt, and absolute liberty can corrupt absolutely,” wrote Getrude Himmelfarb.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer underscored this truth: “The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery.”

It is only as the Son makes us free that we shall be free indeed. It is in surrender to Christ that we find freedom. Gripped by grace our hearts take flight. Low at his feet we stand tall. Under His lordship we find liberty.

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It is in belonging to Him that we find ourselves.
It is in obeying Him that we are set free.

Blessed contradiction!

The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Published in: on 01/03/2013 at 20:47  Leave a Comment  
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The seduction of power

What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” We ask, “Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?” (Mt. 20:21). …We have been tempted to replace love with power.

–Henri Nouwen

Published in: on 11/02/2012 at 11:00  Leave a Comment  
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Redefining greatness

Whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least. That is the crux of the matter for us, isn’t it? Most of us know we will never be the greatest; just don’t let us be the least. Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. No one wanted to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.

–Richard Foster

Published in: on 06/08/2011 at 13:41  Leave a Comment  
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Ultimate greatness

When Christ tells us
that greatness is service,
is he not telling us that
the One who is infinitely great
is the greatest servant of all—
that God is great because
His ultimate passion
is to serve?

A True Picture of God

If we accept Jesus as our God, we would have to conclude that our God does not want to be served by us, he wants to serve us; he doesn’t want to be given the highest possible status in our society; he wants to take the lowest place, without any status; he does not want to be feared; he wants to be recognized in the sufferings of the poor; he is not supremely indifferent and detached, he is irrevocable committed to the liberation of humanity, for he has chosen to identify himself with all the people in a spirit of solidarity and compassion. If this is not a true picture of God, then Jesus is not divine. If this is a true picture of God, then God is more truly human, more thoroughly humane, than any human being. He is a supremely ‘human God.’

–Albert Nolan

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