By Bruce Green
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
It’s possible to be alive without being liberated.
Under the old covenant, someone who had committed manslaughter could flee to one of the six cities of refuge in Israel to avoid vengeance being taken on them by a relative of the victim’s family. Once there, their case would be tried by an assembly to confirm that the killing had indeed been accidental. Once this determination was made, they would be granted asylum to live in the city. If they left the city, vengeance could be taken on them. It was only after the death of the reigning high priest that the person would be able to leave the city and resume a normal life. Until such a time, they had life but not liberation.
It can be that way with those of us who belong to Jesus Christ — who is our refuge (Hebrews 6:18). Through Him we escape the penalty of death. Through Him we have life.
Yet despite the fact that Jesus, our High Priest, has died making our liberation possible (Hebrews 9:11-15), sometimes we are guilty of taking the life we receive and simply hanging around the city — content that we’ve checked the “God box” and everything is good. We take the magnificent treasure of God’s love and stuff it deep down into our pockets or purses, or upload it to our clouds, and then go about our normal lives. There’s no maliciousness in any of this, but there’s also no burning passion for the One who died and lives for us. Nor is there any overwhelming desire to share His marvelous love with others. The pilot light is on, but there’s no flame. We have life, but not liberation.
We’re not all that different than those who show up at airports these days and get on a flight (some of them lasting as long as seven hours). When they deplane, they’re at exactly the same place they started. They’re paying between $500 to $2,500 for a flight to nowhere. They’re still in the city.
But there are those who leave the city and allow God to take them wherever His hands and heart need them to be. They don’t do this because they’re great; they do it because God is great. And it is this recognition that enables them to find liberation by losing themselves in His love. It is what drives them to do more than just live — they live for Him. It’s what fueled Paul to say, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).
We’ve fled to Jesus for refuge and You’ve blessed us with life. Help us to move outside the city and be used by You to bless the world as You purposed from the very beginning. Fill us with Your Spirit and send us where we’re needed. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
You can find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: www.atasteofgracewithbrucegreen.com.