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Community Lutheran Church - Escondido

Location

3575 East Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027

Entrance from Lake Wohlford Road

Senior Pastor

Pastor Bob Hiller

Sunday Services

Worship - 7:45 AM & 10:00 AM (Blended)
Bible Study & Sunday School - 9:00 AM all ages

Sunday Sermons

Community Lutheran Church - San Marcos

Location

340 Rancheros Drive Suite 160
San Marcos, CA 92069

Sunday Services

Worship - 9:30 AM
Bible Study - 10:45 AM all ages

 

  • Two Church Campuses, One Mission:
  • Escondido
  • San Marcos

Sermons

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Jun 26, 2016

Summer Freedom

Passage: Galatians 5:13-21

Preacher: Rev. Joel Beyer

Series: Lectionary Series C

Category: Freedom

Keywords: couch potato, freedom, grace, judaizers, saint, sinner, summer break, work, workbooks

Summary:

When you look back to your days of summer break from school, what were your best memories? Playing with your brother and sister? Exploring the world? Just being a kid? In Christ, you've been set free to be a child of God in the family of God. Enjoy your Christian freedom. School is out!

Detail:

 

“Summer Freedom”

Galatians 5:1, 13-25 ESV      

            We are now fully into the swing of summer which means freedom for most of our young people, but maybe not so much for their parents who are now inundated with children who are bored and restless and looking to make their parent’s life more interesting.  As I reflect upon my childhood, I remember not being able to wait for the freedom of summer to come. Those were the days where there was no responsibility, nothing to think about, that I could spend hours with my family and with my friends just hanging out enjoying each other.  As a family, we would go on vacations together. We would spend time at the beach, (which in Arkansas was not that great because it was on a lake). We would play baseball, hunt crawdads and shoot firecrackers. Basically summer meant I could enjoy the time away from those Southern Sweet but Strict school teachers and instead enjoy the freedom that comes from simply being a kid in my family.

            In many ways, summer break is the perfect analogy for the Christian freedom that is yours and mine in the Gospel.  It’s the kind of freedom that Paul has been preaching about in His entire letter to the Galatians thus far. You see, the Apostle Paul was writing to the Galatian church Christians who were being influenced by a group of legalistic Jewish Christians called Judaizers who basically said, “Look, you have been forgiven by Christ of your sins. His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead has loosened your chains, but your’e not quite all the way free. You need to work. You have to continue to follow the Jewish ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. You have to do things like eat kosher and get circumcised.” But Paul, throughout Galatians says “NO NO NO! You can’t do anything to free yourselves from the law, because in Christ, you’re free from the law! Christ fulfilled the law so that you don’t have to, and now Christ’s perfection is yours. As we heard last week, as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ. You’re free! So let go of trying to earn God’s love with your works, judging others in the process, and instead receive and enjoy the freedom of the Gospel! Christ has done everything necessary to fulfill the law, and by His bloody sacrifice on the cross, has forgiven your sins and made you free!”

            Now, we Christians in America are no Judaizers, but that doesn’t stop us from sometimes mixing a little law in with our Gospel freedom either. We can be like those kids during summer break who don’t enjoy their freedom but spend all summer studying and working and get ahead for the next year. It’s like my wife had it growing up. Poor thing. Her summer freedom included doing workbooks and worksheets to get ahead for the coming school year. Her mom would sit her down and make her do at least a page a day of math and spelling.  And you know the worst part about it — she actually enjoyed it. There’s something twisted about that. We imagine that Christian Freedom is not really enough unless we’re doing something to earn it.  But when it comes to your faith in Christ Jesus you are on permanent summer break from the law! There is no getting ahead in your faith! There is no sinning a little less, or serving a little more in order for God to love you and call you His own.  Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, therefore don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” In other words, Jesus Christ through His death on the cross has set you free from any responsibility to have to please God with your life in order for Him to love you. You don’t have to work off your sins. You aren’t a machine. You don’t have to produce great works in Jesus name. You don’t have to go to church, or be a Lutheran (don’t tell Pastor Bob I said that). You are free!  In Christ Jesus you are always on Summer Break from the law! Christ has done everything for you.

            Now the Apostle Paul goes on to say that, yes you are free in Christ from having to fulfill the law, but that doesn’t mean that living a lawless life is the best thing for you. You see, there’s also this tendency in us to take the freedom we’ve been given and use it as a license to do whatever we want! To keep going with the summer freedom analogy, there are some Christians who use their freedom in Christ to be couch potatoes all Summer. The apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:13,  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Paul is saying instead of misusing your freedom to be completely lazy, to hole yourself up in your room playing video games, eating ice cream all Summer, ignoring your family and serving only yourself and gratifying the desires of your flesh, which is just another form of slavery, your freedom in Christ gives you opportunity and joy to serve your brother and sister. Don’t let sin run wild in your lives. Don’t neglect the Spirit of God and the preaching of His Word. Don’t waste the freedom God has given you to live selfishly, hoarding your money, your time, your passion, but with the freedom you’ve received, be use it to serve and build up someone else in Christ’s love.

            It’s not easy. It’s super tempting to use your freedom in Christ serve yourself either by pumping yourself up with the law or by living as if God’s perfect law didn’t exist. Paul says Galatians 5:16-17“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” What Paul is saying is there is a constant war going on inside of you and in me. On the one hand, the Spirit of God is alive in you and produces fruit in you. In your baptism you received the Spirit of God who connects you to the cross of Jesus and makes you a beloved child of God. But on the other hand, Satan and your sinful nature wants to draw you away from the fruits of God’s Spirit and the Gospel and turn you inward on yourself. In Lutheranism we like to talk about it this way, we simultaneously saint and sinner.  As a Christian, you are at every moment of your life completely sainted, saved by the grace of God in Christ, but you are also at the same time still completely 100% sinful as well. And those two sides of you are at war in your heart and mind constantly.  And so Paul encourages the Galatians church and you and me as well to be led by the Spirit. And not in a vague spiritual way, but in such a way that clings to God’s Word and His Promises so that Spirit of God produces naturally the His fruits within you to freely love and serve others in the family of God. Tree analogy….

            You are a child of God, and in the end, that’s what the freedom of a Christian and the life of a Christian is all about: It’s being loved as a child of God in the family of God. You don’t have to earn your way into your family, you’re born into it. In the same way you don’t earn your way into God’s family either. You’re born into it by Baptism. And now you get to enjoy being in it!  When you look back to your days of summer break, what were your best memories? For me it was just about being a kid. It was spending quality time with my family. It was about playing with my siblings and with my friends. It was about exploring and discovering new things about the world. It was about building forts and tents for my friends to enjoy. Summer break was about restoring my identity as a child in my family.  The same is true of our Christian freedom. In Christ, You were set free from being a slave to God and to yourself so that you can simply be a beloved child of God in the family of God. And what does a child of God do? A child of God spends quality time with their family in worship and in prayer, confessing your and forgiving each other, in eating and drinking together the body and blood of Jesus’ and the forgiveness it gives in the Lord’s Supper. A child of God plays with their friends in fellowship and community. A child of God explores God’s Word and discovers the depth of God’s love for people throughout the ages and here in our midst. A child of God builds forts of love and service and mission in the church and outside the church as we give of our gifts to build up the body of Christ and the witness of Christ in this Community.

            As a child of God, you are free to be in the family of God, not because of what you produce or don’t produce, not because of what you’ve done or haven’t done, but because you were washed with the blood of the lamb and brought into God’s family by grace  It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. School is out. The law has been fulfilled. Your sins have been forgiven and heaven is your home. May you enjoy the freedom of being a child of your Heavenly Father. And may you use that freedom, not to hole yourself up in your room, or to puff yourself up, but in joy and thankfulness to freely love and serve one another. God be with you. Amen.

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