I have a lamp that has been sitting in my dining room for almost a year without a shade on it. It’s a beautiful lamp, and it once had a beautiful burlap shade. But between dogs and toddlers and moving trucks, the burlap shade sadly didn’t make it back home to Nashville; it will be easier, I figured, to buy a new shade than to try to fix the old one.
And here I am, almost a year later, with a shade-less lamp sitting in my dining room. I’m largely immune to it now, but every so often a guest (usually my sister or mom) will mention it, or I’ll look at it with fresh eyes and think “Oh shoot, I need to get that shade.”
The lamp is becoming less of a décor piece and more of a physical symbol of my inability to get things done. “Remember me?” says Lamp. “You were supposed to clothe me months ago, and yet here I am, naked and alone, helpless against the judgmental stares of every person who enters your home.” I know the feeling, Lamp.
To-do lists are great. I would be a mess without them, and it’s satisfying to check things off (actually, I find it much more satisfying to go all in and mark through them. Die, to-do, die!). But they can be a burden too, especially if they contain unrealistic goals, or things we just know we won’t be doing for a long time.
For some reason I woke up this morning thinking of the Bible verse from Galatians in which Paul talks about freedom. He says,
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
He’s been talking about the law, and how before Christ, we were all slaves to it. But now that we have the truth of the gospel, we are freed from the law, and freed from the things of this world. But for some reason, we keep returning to those captors. We put these rules on ourselves, and give ourselves spiritual to-do lists, which are often unrealistic.
So Paul is saying to his original readers, and to us, no! You’re free, don’t you remember? And this isn’t just a side-benefit of the gospel; it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. It’s the reason for the gospel! Christ has set us free so that we can live freely.
As Christians, we shouldn’t have that nagging feeling of “Oh shoot, there’s something I need to be doing that I’m not doing.” We are not justified by anything we do, nor are we condemned by anything we don’t do. We are righteous and considered holy because of what was done on our behalf by Christ, and we can rest in that.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
If we can just put down our spiritual to-do lists and live in Christ, keeping in step with the Spirit, loving one another, we can live in freedom. Freedom from the rules we give ourselves, and freedom from the sinful desires that once had a hold on us.
(for more on what Paul was saying, read Galatians 4-5)