Moore: The God of deep freedom
Its 6:30 a.m. in Tijuana, Mexico. I’m with a team from my church, working alongside a ministry that daily shines the bright light of Jesus’ love into the darkness of severe human brokenness.
As light breaks through the windows, I stumble into the kitchen, silently thanking whoever got up and started the big 40-cup percolator. The cobwebs start to clear with the first slow, careful sip of Tijuana coffee. Ah, the bliss. How can so much joy come from something so simple?
I open my Bible to prepare my heart for the day’s work ahead. Still squinting a bit, I read … “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Freedom. Now there’s a concept. The people who first heard this were mostly working and slave class people for whom financial, political, and social freedom was barely a dream. What did this mean to them? What does it mean now?
Carlos, the leader of La Roca Ministries, fills his mug as our team emerges from the night’s rest. Free. The word sticks in my mind, bringing up a distant memory, a lame coffee joke from my early years out of school.
“Hey Carlos, what’s the best kind of coffee?” Blank stare. “Free coffee!”
He winces. Carlos is a Marine veteran and has walked paths in life I can’t even imagine.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I’ve had some really bad free coffee.”
Good point, but that’s still better than the worst kind of coffee. No coffee.
There are two extremes of free coffee. First is the stale carafe at some local business, accompanied by that container of expired powdered creamer and a bowl of lumpy sugar. Free? Yes. Good? Your call.
The other extreme is just this side of heaven. You’ve spent the night with a friend whose grandmother is a lifelong coffee aficionado. It’s early dawn when you hear her bustling about in the kitchen, and you enter her domain like it is hallowed ground.
“Good morning” she smiles, pointing you to the hand-painted cup with steam still rising. Nearby you see the bag of gourmet beans, the grinder, and best of all, the 6 cup Moka pot sitting on her old gas stove.
Oh, friends. This cup of coffee is a work of art, painstakingly prepared by loving hands exceeded only by her loving heart. You take the cup reverently and drink it black. Creamer would be an insult. Free? Of course. Priceless? Oh, yes.
American culture promises lots of free stuff. Some things are free, like that bag of swag you collected at the GoPro Mountain Games. I’ll call that “shallow free” — fun for a while, but that’s about it. Then there is “deep free.” These gifts are tenuous as they are precious, works of art handed to us by generations of untold sacrifice.
Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The freedom to live our lives without fear of violence, oppression, and injustice. The freedom found in true human kindness and equality. These are historic anomalies and can be rare even today. Such freedoms are sacred and flow inherently from the heart of God who created us to be free.
As a follower of Jesus, I believe in the God of deep freedom. The kind of freedom that was just as real and available for the slaves in the first century as it is for the homeless in Tijuana today, and is for you and me.
Circumstantial freedom is so fragile, but in Christ, God calls to us with a freedom that cannot be taken away, even when all others are. Freedom from guilt, shame, condemnation, and the weight of my sin. Freedom from legalism and performance. Freedom from fear, anger, bitterness, pride, and the chains of unforgiveness. Freedom from hopelessness, selfishness, and the delusion that life is all about me. Ultimately, freedom from death itself.
Last month I said that these are spiritual truths, but not just that. Each day, one step of faith at a time, God teaches us to surrender the chains Christ cut at the cross. Jesus once said, “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Some years later, Paul exclaimed, “It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free! So stand firm, and don’t become a slave again!”
As Americans, we love to celebrate our freedom, as we should. For me, I am deeply grateful for the freedom God is working in my life, and I would love to share it with you. Free coffee with a friend … that might just be the best kind.
Ethan Moore is the pastor of Trinity Church in Edwards. He and his wife Lisa have lived in the valley since 1995. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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