You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
I love this verse. I love it because it taught me a very valuable lesson.
I grew up thinking that churches suck. God is good, men are hypocrites. And in a way, sadly, I was right. Many times, Christians do not live up to the Christ they follow. Because of that, I did (and still do sometimes) have a hard time calling myself a Christian. I do not want to be one of those people with the Jesus sticker on their car who flips off the guy who is driving too slow.
Anyway. I found myself going from one extreme to the other. I didn't want to suck. I wanted to be good. I would strive to be good, to be the girl I was supposed to be. I didn't want to disappoint Him.
But here's the deal kids: we do not have the power to take ourselves out of the love of God. You don't even have to believe in God for Him to love you. I mean, He kind of is love. That's just how He rolls.
So then I had this beautiful revelation of grace - this love that we do not deserve, but that we are entitled to just for being the children of God, followers of Christ. Because in case you don't know about this Jesus dude, He is actually God who came down as man and said "Hey, I know there is this law that says if you sin against God, you have to be removed from Him, which is the equivalent of death, but God doesn't like being away from you. So, what I'm gonna do is take your place. If you will just accept me and this sacrifice I am making for you, you will never have to be removed from God. He can be with you always."
Awesome deal right? Yes. So Jesus dies and leaves His spirit to take His place and give us guidance...but then we start going to extremes again. We say, "Sweet, we can do whatever we want and know that we are forgiven because we can just pull the Jesus card and be forgiven! Yay for grace!"
Well crap, that can't be right either. Grace can't be an excuse to do whatever you want.
You see, the thing that really happened when Jesus came down and took our place was this: He opened up the door and allowed you to know God more intimately by leaving us all with the Holy Spirit which He left when his body died. Grace does not mean the law does not exist, it just means that the law is now "written on our hearts" (check out Jeremiah 31:31-34 and 2 Cor 3). We can know God (to a certain extent) and if we know Him, we can love Him. And if we love Him, we obey Him. Because to obey the Lord of creation is GOOD.
Am I making sense here? Grace does not entitle us to do what we want, it just gives us the freedom to know God and to love love love. Because that is why we are here. To love.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2 Cor 3:17-18
Churches don't have to suck. Yeah we are human and we mess up, and grace does say that we are forgiven, that we are not bound by rules and legalistic attidudes (i.e. like the Pharisees), but what the Lord says is still true too. He is still God. And we still need to love Him. And to love Him is to love His people, His children - who also happen to be your brothers and sisters if you think about it. Let's be a family again guys.