Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
Our family had just moved to America when the movie "Braveheart" was released. Like everyone else, we really enjoyed the story, and as proud Scots, we treasured Mel Gibson's portrayal of William Wallace.
We had grown up hearing the stories of this great warrior from our parents and teachers. I can even remember, as a child, visiting the armoury section of a Glasgow museum, which, at that time, proudly displayed Wallace's double-handed sword. His struggle for freedom was, and still is, something that deeply touches the spirits of many Scots. So, when our family saw Gibson on the execution rack at the end of the movie, defiantly shouting, "Freedom!" it was as if a major electric shock had gone through our bodies. It was a mighty moment in movie history, but it was also a cherished event for lovers of liberty around the world.
That's akin to the freedom that Paul urges the church in Galatia to experience. He's calling upon the Galatian Christians to remember the joy, the power, and the glory of being set free from sin and fear. He's urging them not give up the love and liberties that faith in Jesus has brought to their lives. He's reminding them that to step back into religious legalism will enslave them to ritualism instead of embracing redemption.
Sometimes, in our churches, we try to limit the freedoms that our faith has given us. Instead of being joyful, we focus on being dutiful. Instead of serving God cheerfully, we chain ourselves to a godless sanctimony that neither pleases Christ nor persuades people to become Christians. In other words, we cleave ourselves to cold, calculated customs, rather than following the freedom Christ offers.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us as we struggle against those human burdens that we falsely believe lead us to holiness and perfection, but instead take us down the path to hell and perdition. Teach us, again and again, that we are justified by faith alone and not through allegiance to any culture, traditions, or customs that we have built into the church, which have become idols of our hearts and false gods to our souls. In Your holy name, we pray for freedom. Amen.