Shaking Off the Restraints

castingoffrestraintsOn my way into the office this morning I was listening to a couple of radio hosts talking about Saint Patrick’s Day. My initial thoughts went to a previous year’s blog that shared the phenomenal story of the real Saint Patrick and how he fought hard against the snakes (demons) of Ireland as he took the Gospel of Christ to his former slave masters and overall evil people of the land.

The male host then noted that for many years, alcohol was prohibited on St. Patrick ’s Day. It was a day to attend church and reflect on the pious life of God’s humble servant. The host went on to say that eventually “we casted off those shackles.”

Other sources tell us that today, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the leading days of the year for consuming alcohol as religious observers are allowed to “take a break” in their Lenten observances of prayer, repentance, fasting and self-denial during the forty days leading up to Easter.

What an irony! On the very day we celebrate one of the most righteous Christian ministers of the past two-thousand years, we throw off our constraints of piety and party down. When I heard the radio host say, “We casted off those shackles,” my mind immediately jumped to scripture:

“Let me go to the leaders and speak to them. For they know the LORD’s way, the requirement of their God. ‘But they, all together, have broken the yoke and torn off the restraints.’” (Jer. 5:5)

The context of this passage is a nation who had traded obedience to God for the ways of the culture around them; a people who thwarted God’s attempts to discipline them toward returning to right behavior; a people who refused to repent even in the face of judgment.

Some might say, “but Jesus came to give us freedom,” and they would be right. The challenge is not in what Jesus did, but in how we understand what He did. Some argue that God’s grant of freedom is a license to do as we please without regard to consequences. This could not be further from the truth. The real freedom is the right to choose to follow our Savior who paid the price for our freedom or to continue living like a captive to sin. Jesus gave us freedom, but we must choose to live it out.

We are free to choose whom we will serve, not how we will live. Because we are not strong enough to survive on our own without God to defend and help us, we must realize that a choice to live outside His protected territory is a choice to be enslaved again by the enemy of our souls. Even a kite needs a string. When pulling against the string and testing its boundaries, the kite can soar, but as soon as it breaks free of its restraint, it crashes to the earth or is entangled by branches or wire. There is a consequence to “casting off the shackles…”

Father while we are grateful that You have set us free from sin, we know that we never want to be free from You or Your precious precepts. Help us to follow You all the days of our life. Help us to soar like a kite, securely tethered to Your hand. Bless my readers today, and grant them the desires of their heart. Amen!

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