Freedom of Joy
Many years ago I heard a definition of what “kingdom of God” means. Simply, it is “God’s way of doing things.” That definition has become a staple in my heart when I read the Bible and come across that phrase. When we are asked to live according to the “kingdom of God”, we are simply being asked to conduct our life in a way that conforms to God’s ways of doing life. That is the way that Jesus lived life, not because of the pressure of Him being “God’s Son”, but because He was a “man” focused and relying upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and striving after the Law of Love.
For Christians (Christ-followers) it is our life to not just ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” but to “do” what Jesus did. Focus and rely on the Holy Spirit and strive after the Law of Love.
Focusing and relying on the Holy Spirit inside of us will always endeavor to keep our vertical relationship (with God) on the right track through an element known as “conviction”. Conviction is that quality of being firmly convinced of what you believe to be right in your heart. As we read the Bible, we see God’s ways that we need to be conformed to. Those ways become “truths” that through conviction cause us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
The more that we are conformed to the way that Jesus lived His life in obedience to the Word of God, the more we experience the freedom of Joy. We become content, confident, and more trusting in God and His wanting to be apart of our life, not only in the sweet by and by but especially in the nasty, here and now!
The sticky part of conviction is that we are all in different places in our lives in the truths of the kingdom of God. Our Holy Spirit convictions may not necessarily be other peoples Holy Spirit convictions. That is where the Law of Love comes in to keep our horizontal relationships (with other people) on the right track.
We are all a “process in progress”. We all could be reading the same chapter of the book of Proverbs but might have different principles jump-off the page for each of us. The Holy Spirit in us leading, highlighting and establishing what the kingdom of God wants to adjust, vertically. But if someone else has a different principle jump-off the page, it is easy for us to place our convictions on them because our truth is our reality. Our convictions then begin to place a stress on our horizontal relationships. We have to realize that we are not and cannot be the Holy Spirit for anyone else.
The Law of Love allows that our conforming to the image of Jesus remains “freedom” by not incarcerating our horizontal relationships to our convictions but letting the Holy Spirit in them to allow the experience of the freedom of Joy of their journey with Holy Spirit.
If you see another Christian in blatant rebellion (knowing what is right but refusing to do it), step up and correct within the Law of Love but if you see that they are on a journey with Holy Spirit, love them enough to let Holy Spirit work it out in them. Your convictions may not be their convictions... yet!
The scripture that set these thoughts that I am sharing came from Romans 14:
“I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.” (Romans 14:14–18, NLT)
The context is about the contrasting journeys of people with the conviction of eating certain foods or eating any foods, but can identify any area of conviction while following Christ. The freedom of Joy that we have been given is a life that is sensitive to the path of Holy Spirit and His Joy of you being conformed to the image of Jesus. Not in order for “you to be right” with God but because “you are right” with God (vertical). The Law of Love will give the freedom of Joy and cause your horizontal relationships to stay on the right track.
...the Kingdom of God is... living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)
Expect JOY to flourish in you and have a great start of 2015!