I Don’t Need Your Legislation (A Good Friday Litany)

I know who I am.
I know what I signed up for.
I know whose life I have chosen to pattern my life after.
I know that patterning my life after Jesus comes with a cost.

And to that end, I realize and accept the fact that it could cost me everything, including my own life.

But despite that reality, I have chosen, and continue to choose, to bear the cross of Christ and to be led by the Spirit of God.

For it is only at the cross where all that enslaves is crucified. And it is only in the Spirit where I, at last, find freedom.

To that end, I do not need anyone or anything to protect me.

And I certainly do not need any legislation to pronounce the freedom I already have, and will continue to have, despite my changing circumstance or situation.

For if my loving of friend and enemy offends or is a crime, then arrest me.

If praying or blessing offends or is a crime, then imprison me.

If my Kingdom values (which always looks like Jesus) offends or is a crime, then ridicule and ostracize me.

If standing up for the oppressed or marginalized, or by associating with “sinners” and outcasts offends or is a crime, then spit on me.

If honoring God with my entire being (my words, my life, my all) offends or is a crime, then beat and give me your most severe punishment.

If patterning my life after Jesus and going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, and giving the shirt off of my back offends or is a crime, then crucify me.

But hear me in this.

I do not need a law to protect me.
I do not need a government to grant me a freedom I already have.
I do not need a legislator to promise or guarantee a freedom that I will continue to have.

My freedom is in Christ alone.

Whether I am poor or rich… I am free.
Whether I am enslaved or emancipated… I am free.
Whether I am imprisoned or liberated… I am free.
Whether I am a servant or a master… I am free.
Whether I am suffering or in comfort… I am free.

For it is God alone who has freed me. And that freedom is enjoyed in any and all circumstances or situations of my life.

I have counted the cost of following Jesus Christ and accepted the freedom he has given me. That is sufficient.

“That’s all nice and good until they come after you and then punish you and make an example.”

To which I would humbly reply, “If punishment for loving was good enough for my Savior and Lord, then may it be good enough for me.”

For it was Jesus who loved, yet faced accusation.
It was Jesus who loved, yet faced the heavy hand of opposition groups, religious groups, and the government.
It was Jesus who loved, and lost everything.
It was Jesus who loved, and was mocked, beaten, and spit upon. It was Jesus who loved, and was put to a wretched and inhumane death.

All of this without legislation to protect his religious liberty.

He made no appeal to the governing authorities for his right to practice his faith. He lived and faced the consequences and said, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they are doing it.”

[We ought to] think of [ourselves] the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭5-8‬ MSG)

Let his life be our life.
Let his love be our love.
Let his way be our way.
Let his death be our death.

For that is where life and freedom are found.

It is for this reason, that no Christian should hide fearfully behind man-made legislation. For if we live our lives like Christ, ought we not expect to be treated as Christ was treated?

It is only when we face opposition, persecution, threats, and ultimately death, that we can show the world, as the Body of Christ in the world, what great lengths we will go to in order to demonstrate the sacrificial, cross-like love of God.

And that kind of love will never be found in legislation, it can only be found when we pick up our cross.

“Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”- ‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬

Brandon

The Parable of the Homeowner

This is a story of two homeowners and their two different outlooks on life.

The first homeowner lived in a neighborhood that was quite old and had seen generations pass in and out of the homes. While they once stood together in newness and promise, each governed by the agreed-upon neighborhood covenants to keep the neighborhood looking nice to maintain their value, times had changed. Decade upon decade of wear and tear and neglect had taken it’s toll.

The neighborhood covenants had been long since forgotten, or not even really known, by the majority of those who lived in the neighborhood. And as a result, the neighborhood deteriorated.

The first homeowner was living in a house that had been handed down for several generations. He knew intimately the neighborhood covenants that governed the neighborhood and he burned with anger how his neighbors were either ignorant, or intentionally neglectful, of the neighborhood covenants.

Everyone was well aware of his displeasure… and he went out of his way to let them know about it. He believed, with every ounce of his being, that he needed to take a stand for what was right against anyone and everyone who was responsible for the decline and the devaluing of the neighborhood.

He would go outside with his hands on his hips and stare in disgust at his neighbors and at the way they chose to live. He wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper and made indignant Facebook posts about how others in the community should join him in taking a stand against the people in his neighborhood who were neglecting the covenants. On many occasions he went out of his way to make copies of the covenant, posting it on every neighbor’s door. He even went to the City Council in order to get an ordinance passed that would force his neighbors to comply with the original covenants.

The homeowner took a stand against every single person who violated the covenants.

Everyone in the neighborhood, and a growing number of people in the community, hated this man and resented his antagonism and judgment.

Truth be told…some of his neighbors were actually unaware of the original neighborhood covenants, but didn’t want anything to do with this man, or his cause (no matter how right he may have been). Others had known about the neighborhood covenants from long ago, but decided to ignore them in spite of him.

Everyone was tired of his negativity, tired of the signs in his yard, tired of his rants in the media, and tired of his self-righteous attitude.

They began standing up to him, fighting fire with fire. But when they did this, he cried out that he was being unfairly persecuted. Little did he know that his neighbors and the city council were working to get rid of him. And get rid of him they ultimately did. The around-the-clock protests, intimidation, and threats of litigation were too much… so he moved.

It wasn’t long before someone new purchased the vacated house. The new homeowner was told by the previous homeowner all about the neighborhood covenants before he moved in.

But unlike the previous homeowner, the new homeowner did not lose any sleep about the neighborhood covenants not being followed by his neighbors. He had a much different perspective- rather than tell people all the things they are doing wrong or all the ways they are not measuring up, he walked alongside them, getting to know them, and teaching them a better way.

He realized there was a richness in getting to know his neighbors and their children. There was value in getting everyone together so that they could get to know each other. And there was a joy in teaching the neighborhood children through his example how to care for and maintain a house and property.

It was a beautiful thing.

The homeowner was so well-respected, because of his love, grace, and care for his neighbors, that they would frequently reach out to him to ask questions about how to improve their houses. He was happy to teach and help. In fact, some of his neighbors learned so much from him that they began helping other neighbors on their own. People were helping one another, teaching, training, and cooperating to improve the entire neighborhood.

The neighborhood, once a place of negativity, hostility, and division, was now a place full of life, vibrancy, restoration, and hope because of the love, grace, and example of one man.

He never once had to use the neighborhood covenants to tell people how far they were falling short, rather he taught them through his words and example how to make the improvements and changes to their homes.

The Kingdom of God is like a humble and loving man who patiently teaches and trains others in righteousness, through word and example, for the restoration of individuals and communities.

To those who have ears, let them hear.

Brandon