There’s an incredibly powerful movie that came out recently called “Megamind”. It’s a redemptive story where someone who was originally born leaning toward sin and self eventually realizes the error of his ways, and is transformed into a champion of righteousness. (Okay, so that might be an over-spiritualization…but it can definitely be used in youth ministry.)
At one point in the movie, the evil villain Megamind is distraught over not having any “good” to balance out his evil. He had defeated the Super-hero, and everything he does now feels pointless. So he devises a plan to create a new super-hero using the DNA of the previous hero. He accidentally gives super-powers to a hapless young man with no desire to use the powers for good. Megamind quickly moves from benevolent giver of powers – to unleashing his desire and need to control the forces he’s unleashed.
Some of us have the same opinion of God. We picture God looking down from above, seeing a world he created as broken and filled with sin. He needs someone to clean up the mess that’s been made, and so he offers to transform humanity, with the understanding we have a calling to play a cosmic-janitorial role.
But that’s not what we read in scripture:
Galatians 5:1 declares “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
There’s a popular worship song that uses this phrase, and I’ll be honest – I’ve usually thought it was a bit redundant. I figured maybe the writer of the scripture was simply emphasizing the importance of freedom by repeating the word. But in our world of manipulation by those in power – the verse hits us as a breath of fresh air. God has not acted benevolently on our behalf in order to build an army of soldiers who sing his battle hymns and march to his omnipotent drumming. God has acted on our behalf because He loves us, because we were enslaved and held captive by sin, and because He wanted us to experience true freedom.
Sure, it’s a freedom that when we actually experience it, will infinitely compel us into so many directions of response. But the words of God in Galatians 5:1 remind us – it’s not for any return performance, act of gratitude, or powerful response on his behalf that he originally moved for us. It was out of a love for us that was so strong, he could not sit and watch us remain captive. We are set free. Why? In order to live as those who have been set free!
Are we communicating His motives to a world still in bondage? Are we giving our children that message when we teach them about the God who loves us? How could we refine our message just a little bit this week, as God sets us free to live holy lives? To begin, you may want to take a moment and discover where you might still be submitting to the chains of sin…