Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Freedom Isn't Free

It is with some sheepishness that I admit I have a soft spot in me for Christian music. I know there's nothing wrong with it, it's just not my style. ;)

In an introduction to Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", the DJ remarked that because of our belief in Christ, we were saved and delivered from our "chains"--those nasty sins that hold us back--once, now, and forever.

Beautiful as that may sound, I find myself raising an eyebrow in skepticism.

If my chains were gone, then I'd not snap in anger at my parents.
If my chains were gone, then I wouldn't be careless in my language.
If my chains were gone, then I wouldn't need to fight my passions like an alter ego.

Right? Isn't that what "once saved always saved" means? Well, any Christian will say they still have sins present in their life that weigh them down--vices, hangups, and for some, even addictions. If salvation equates to our freedom from sin, then shouldn't these things have disappeared when we accepted Christ? Clearly humanity debunks this "broken chains" idealism faster than it can get on its feet.

Some Protestants believe that once we make that initial cry for salvation, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from God. Because we have called on the name of the Lord, we will spend eternity in Heaven. This, too, is a faulty way of thinking. Take, for example, a scenario in which a Christian murders his brother. Is this person saved? According to some denominations, yes, he is, even though the Bible clearly tells us we shall not kill. The wages of sin is death, indeed.

This is why salvation is not an event, but a process that takes our entire lives to complete. Yes, there is usually a moment when we call out for Christ, and He comes to live within us. However, our fates aren't sealed in that instant. We are made temples of the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul tells us, but what happens when we defile ourselves with sins of both thought and deed? The Holy Spirit cannot live contently in something unholy.

Salvation is a journey. Every day, we make choices--either walk toward holiness and the promises of Christ, or walk toward sin and separation from our Father who loves us so much. Accept and work with the grace of God to overcome temptation, or reject it in stubbornness and remain trapped in sin.

I've been saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved in the here and now (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved at the end of my life (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). [Verses from]

We can only ever be truly free the day we stand before our Lord, and are welcomed with open arms into His kingdom. Until then, we follow His commandments and live in His love. With grace, maybe those "chains" won't be so heavy after all.