I have really enjoyed reading in the book of Galatians the last few days as a part of my Bible reading plan for the year.  Especially since I'm reading in the Message version and getting a  fresh perspective on the old truths contained in Paul's letter to the church in Galatia.

Yesterday I was reading chapter five and in verse 16 I was struck by this line, "My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit."

Those who are not followers of Jesus often think that Christianity is the opposite of freedom.  They think that we believers are governed by this huge rule book that sits on the coffee table collecting dust and spells out every single thing that we can't do and then gives examples of what happens to people when they don't follow the rules.

But that couldn't be farther from the Truth.

It is True that the Bible spells out things that we should avoid, sexual immorality, gossip, slander, drunkenness, fighting, hate, murder, you know, everything that doesn't show love toward someone else.  But think of it this way.  Instead of a rule book listing things to be avoided, it's more like an instruction manual for getting the most out of this life.  The things the Bible says to avoid it says for OUR benefit.  God is not some random fun killer trying to keep us from enjoying life, He's a coach trying to get us to live to our greatest potential!

Think of it this way.  Let's say you just got selected for the 2016 Olympic team.  Your dream is to win the gold for yourself and your country.  A coach who drives you hard in practice but doesn't care about what you do when you leave the gym would not be your best choice if you wanted to win.  But a coach who pushed you hard in practice and then helped you understand what things you needed to avoid in your diet, in your leisure time, etc., would be of great benefit to you.  And although you may not enjoy the "rules" once you won the gold you would be so happy that your coach pushed you so hard.

Or how about this.  My family used to watch The Biggest Loser television show every week.  If the trainers killed the contestants for eight hours a day in the gym and then let them go back to the homes and eat whatever they wanted we would not see the dramatic results that show produced.  We would not see changed lives.  In fact, when Rulon Gardner was on the show he did not do as well as the others, even though he was at one time a world-class athlete, because he was making poor decisions outside the gym.

God has given us the Bible so that we might know how to wring the most out of this life.  When we decide that our "freedom" means we can do whatever we want we find ourselves, addicted, chained to repetition, miserable because of guilt, hopelessly stuck in a sexual vacuum or simply done trying to live beyond our current situation.  But when you are free, from those "freedoms" that actually confine you, life is so much better, hopeful, happy and you're able to enjoy the freedom you have instead of regretting what you've given up.  Would any athlete claim that their life is not free?  No.  Because they have willingly given up a little to gain what they really want.

I want to live freely - not addicted, confined, forever scraping and clawing to get ahead or stuck in an endless cycle of abuse.  But animated and motivated by God's Spirit, who is my personal life coach.  Helping me avoid the things that will keep me from reaching the goal of living this life to the fullest extent and having hope that when this life is over, real life begins.

Look at your own life without Christ.  Are you free?  Really?  Do you have money to have fun or are you spending it all on your addictions?  Are you healthy and happy in your life or are you strung out and waking up in strange places and can't remember how you got there?  If you don't shoot up or take another hit do you feel better or worse?  The fact is you're trapped - not free.

It's time to be free.

I have really enjoyed reading in the book of Galatians the last few days as a part of my Bible reading plan for the year.  Especially since I'm reading in the Message version and getting a  fresh perspective on the old truths contained in Paul's letter to the church in Galatia.

Yesterday I was reading chapter five and in verse 16 I was struck by this line, "My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit."

Those who are not followers of Jesus often think that Christianity is the opposite of freedom.  They think that we believers are governed by this huge rule book that sits on the coffee table collecting dust and spells out every single thing that we can't do and then gives examples of what happens to people when they don't follow the rules.

But that couldn't be farther from the Truth.

It is True that the Bible spells out things that we should avoid, sexual immorality, gossip, slander, drunkenness, fighting, hate, murder, you know, everything that doesn't show love toward someone else.  But think of it this way.  Instead of a rule book listing things to be avoided, it's more like an instruction manual for getting the most out of this life.  The things the Bible says to avoid it says for OUR benefit.  God is not some random fun killer trying to keep us from enjoying life, He's a coach trying to get us to live to our greatest potential!

Think of it this way.  Let's say you just got selected for the 2016 Olympic team.  Your dream is to win the gold for yourself and your country.  A coach who drives you hard in practice but doesn't care about what you do when you leave the gym would not be your best choice if you wanted to win.  But a coach who pushed you hard in practice and then helped you understand what things you needed to avoid in your diet, in your leisure time, etc., would be of great benefit to you.  And although you may not enjoy the "rules" once you won the gold you would be so happy that your coach pushed you so hard.

Or how about this.  My family used to watch The Biggest Loser television show every week.  If the trainers killed the contestants for eight hours a day in the gym and then let them go back to the homes and eat whatever they wanted we would not see the dramatic results that show produced.  We would not see changed lives.  In fact, when Rulon Gardner was on the show he did not do as well as the others, even though he was at one time a world-class athlete, because he was making poor decisions outside the gym.

God has given us the Bible so that we might know how to wring the most out of this life.  When we decide that our "freedom" means we can do whatever we want we find ourselves, addicted, chained to repetition, miserable because of guilt, hopelessly stuck in a sexual vacuum or simply done trying to live beyond our current situation.  But when you are free, from those "freedoms" that actually confine you, life is so much better, hopeful, happy and you're able to enjoy the freedom you have instead of regretting what you've given up.  Would any athlete claim that their life is not free?  No.  Because they have willingly given up a little to gain what they really want.

I want to live freely - not addicted, confined, forever scraping and clawing to get ahead or stuck in an endless cycle of abuse.  But animated and motivated by God's Spirit, who is my personal life coach.  Helping me avoid the things that will keep me from reaching the goal of living this life to the fullest extent and having hope that when this life is over, real life begins.

Look at your own life without Christ.  Are you free?  Really?  Do you have money to have fun or are you spending it all on your addictions?  Are you healthy and happy in your life or are you strung out and waking up in strange places and can't remember how you got there?  If you don't shoot up or take another hit do you feel better or worse?  The fact is you're trapped - not free.

It's time to be free.