One of the trends in Emergent Christianity and in the other novel expressions that are a part of this run-up to the establishment of Christianity 3.0 is the exploration for greater expressions of love and liberty. As we members of mainline Christianity begin our expedition for something more in our relationship with Christ and our fellow humans we will soon encounter two very different sensations as a response to our search for the hope we have for the next generation of Christianity. We are not people who are giving up on Christianity but we are a people who are desperate to find and be a part of spiritual communities that will love all humans equally.
Romans 8:20-22 (NLT) Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
As people emerge from their traditions they begin to seek Christian thought which is presented in a way that remains truthful to their beliefs but provides fresh expressions and novel ways to communicate the main point delivered by Jesus, our leader of this two thousand-year old movement. That main point being is love of God and love for all other humans equal to the love we have for self.
This sensation that people will encounter is either one of more bondage or one of freedom. As we grow spiritually we are no longer fooled by words. We begin to rely on a deep relationship we have with God who lives and speaks to each person equally on the inside. This voice continually speaks into every little detail in our lives, guiding us on how to bring liberty in every relationship we take part in. From the cashier checking us out at Target, to all of our co-workers including our bosses, to our neighbors and friends we interact with when taking our kids to ball games and to every member of our many spiritual communities old and new, we hear God’s voice saying love deeply.
As we all move from childhood toward spiritual maturity we no longer need the rigid outward rules to guide us. We can live, dress, eat, and pierce or tattoo any part of ourselves and still remain pure in our ability to sense the difference between spiritual liberty or spiritual bondage. Can you imagine the students on a college campus holding on to a rope being led by a teacher to get from one class to another? No we can’t because with maturity of any type there is an implied expectation of responsibility and devotion to purpose.
Jesus made one point very clear. Love is liberty. So if we have a loving relationship with God, one of mind, heart and strength then we will achieve max freedom with God. Jesus also places almost equal importance on this love/liberty that we experience, be at the root of every relationship with any human. And the point He makes is that this experience of love/liberty be shared equally with everyone.
Jesus the master teacher, even while bound by his Jewish tradition, was able to communicate this love/liberty relationship and start a new movement in the fabric of humanity which we have all inherited. Under the tradition of rabbinic Judaism after a disciple has completed his training he can become a rabbi. Like the kings and presidents of old these rabbis were itinerate but they would use their understanding of the Old Testament theology and Jewish law to help settle disputes in their region. Each rabbi had what was called a rabbinical yoke. It was his personal prioritization of the laws according to his understanding and relationship with God. Each rabbi used their understanding to help resolve conflicts of either spiritual or material nature when rendering his judgments concerning these disputes. Also each rabbi would also train a set of disciples that he chose to carry on and advance his yoke. Jesus willingly died that we all might be His disciples.
My encouragement for every Christian, is to more lean on the yoke of Jesus, because he has chosen us to carry on His interpretation of love and liberty. Rabbi Jesus summed the 613 laws down to 2 laws and when asked which of the 613 laws was most important to He responded “love God with all that you are and love everyone else with the same love you have for yourself.” As each year passes we become more spiritually mature and we come to understand God better and the result is that we will come to love and live in more liberty and understand ourselves and God better. Therefore our love/liberty relationship with all other humans should be maturing equal to the love and liberty we each experience with God.
So today in your mind take an inventory of everyone you personally know and then think of every group of people known to you including groups formed because social status, racial, religious, cultural and national characteristics. Then begin over the next few months as the situations rise in your conscience, to evaluate your thoughts, actions and words you express about these people you know and the people who make up these groups. What is it that you say and do with any of these persons. Everyday multiple times a day spiritually mature people work on their relationship with God. So I know we are all always changing in our relationship with God. And this personal change is the main cause of the Christian emergence.
In case you missed the memo we live in a global community. In my opinion the main reason for the move of those that are emerging is that our traditions require us to relate to other humans in ways that we sense remind us of bondage. Jesus however wants us to learn to love until we can see every human we meet as our brother or sister. Jesus does not want us to fall back and become like the enemy but He encourages us to express love and liberty in new ways that will create new lovers of God and lovers of humanity.
So my friends keep emerging by dropping the yoke of bondage and become more deeply yoked with Jesus. We Christians are disciples of Jesus, first and foremost. He alone is our Shepherd, Master, Teacher, Everything, in other words He is our All in All. Our evidence to the fact that we are disciples of Jesus is that we freely give the liberty that we were freely given and personally experience.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
2 Peter 2:19-20 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Acts 15:8-11 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Matthew 23:1-5 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men.