Freedom on the Inside

Gripping a small bag of color powder, I ran towards the motionless crowd. It was slightly vulnerable not knowing how I’d be received. Would they stare in bewilderment confused why I was so excited? Would they gently nod to simply oblige me, yielding to social expectation? 

I held the bag a little tighter and proceeded. What if they joined me, excited to express new levels of unhindered freedom? Or even better, what if they received my unbridled passion as an expression of divine adoration, the showering affection of God Himself? 

With a bit of a skip I bounced forward ready to leap in the air and release the powder thinking, “freedom feels good!” I was surrounded by friends and family decked out in patriotic gear colorful hats, white t-shirts, and more. Our objective was clear: to unveil the Jesus we had discovered, to embody God’s excitement for every individual heart, that they too would know the bounty of Jesus’ passion.

We had made what could only be described as “the most fantastic float ever!” equipped with banners that read “Jesus loves Redlands,” “God is love,” and possibly the most inspired banner of all, read, “Make America Dance Again!” (a twist of Trump’s political slogan and the most recent theme of our friend’s band). 

A large loot of candy and copious amounts of waters were at the back of the float ready to be given to an anticipating audience. Possibly the greatest invention of all time (a bubble machine), was on the back of the float releasing a plethora of bubbles every few seconds!  The music was bumping from a DJ wearing American flag spandex pants, and our church family was dancing! 

 

Each one of us came with our own unique stories and backgrounds, our own journeys with God. But despite the diversity of our pasts, we shared a common experience— the freedom of Jesus. The chains of insecurity had been forever shattered in the safety of His love embrace. We felt free to dance and express ourselves for the first time!

Shame and guilt had been overtaken by grace and mercy. All our debts were canceled. All our wrongdoings, erased! Mistakes and failures evaporated! We discovered forgiveness which liberated us to forgive others. The weight of bitterness and anger, lifted! 

Still more, we were not merely liberated from negativity and bondage, but we were freed unto a NEW life! A life filled with peace, hearts overwhelmed by God’s bliss, ecstatic pleasure flowing through our veins. We once lived in a hierarchal system of comparison, now we just fell in love with people and wanted to champion and celebrate them! We discovered beauty in faces we once feared. This freedom was so potent; it couldn't be contained. We simply could not help but express it!

As we continued, it was an uproar, an anthem that just seemed to continue to crescendo. I thought of the verse, “…and rivers of living water will pour from within them…” Surely this is what we were experiencing, an unstoppable river! I grabbed my friend and whispered, “doesn’t freedom feel good?” 

Abundant life was bursting from enthralled hearts! We weren’t trying to act excited, evangelize our city, or invite people to our church. We were swept up in the enthralled heart of Jesus, entranced by His vigorous zeal for human life. We embodied His excitement. True freedom. Scandalous even.

A few floats down we could hear someone on a microphone calling people to “repent and accept Jesus”. It’s a familiar and well-intended message, but it was totally missing the hearts of people and the central theme of the gospel. 

Jesus didn’t come to invite us into His life. He invited Himself into our lives, and as we discover that truth it leads to transformed living. He didn’t come demanding we “invite him into our hearts;” He packed His bags and moved into our hearts. The cross was the payment for His dream house…YOU AND ME! 

In Jesus, we discover the God who didn’t come to make further demands of people, but who satisfies all demands to share in perfect union and relationship. Because of His love and excitement for human life, He died, and reconciled all things to Himself. And it is His unveiled goodness that beckons us to change previous ideas (repent) as He invites us into a better story, a new love novel.

And oh, the joy of participating in His story! It’s the most exciting way to live and exist, a new way to be human.  

So I took the leap without regard to how it would be received, jumping high off the ground and flinging the blue powder into the air. A cloud emerged and with it an intrigued response from the crowd. Some cheered, some stood apprehended in silence, still others waved and shouted. I let out a loud shout followed by a staggering question, “doesn’t freedom feel good!?”. 

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