The Gospel Unchains Hearts

The Gospel Unchains HeartsIf we understand that the gospel frees us to love and to be spontaneous with our love, it begs the question; “What does the gospel in action look like?” What does a life set free by grace free us to do? In considering the implications of the gospel, we love the question; “What will you do now that you don’t have to do anything?” However, our relentless desire to perform creeps in and we ask; “Okay, now what? What must I be doing? What exactly does it look like to love this way?”

A friend shared a recent experience she had with her husband. Exhausted from the day, they met for a refreshing dinner out hoping to catch up and enjoy each other for the evening. As they sat at their table, a man sitting alone nearby caught their attention. In a moment of spontaneous love, they reached out and invited him to join them for dinner. It was sweet to hear her tell of this gesture because I could not help but think how loved this man must have felt.

Their dinner conversation  included a highly controversial issue, which she struggled with afterward: Did she say too much? Did she not say enough? Was what she said right?

The gospel breaks the mold
We are asking the question these days; “What does the gospel have to do with our everyday lives?” “How does it free us to live out of the overflow of the love we have been shown in Christ?” As I sat with my friend, that was the burning question in my mind. “How does the gospel meet her in her doubts and questioning?” The gospel does not bind us to a prescribed set of actions and responses. That is astonishing good news! We are free, because the gospel does not enforce rules of engagement for those loved by God. Free to respond or not respond. The gospel sets me free to respond a certain way and for you to respond a different way. We are free to respond one way today and another way tomorrow. Although all of this may sound elementary, the truth is we agonize over our doings ad nauseam! We believe (wrongly) that we have messed it up and have gotten it wrong. We plan ways we will do better next time.

For my friend and her husband, spontaneous love flowing from the gospel looked like an invitation to a lonely man. Suppose the conversation hadn’t given my friend the urge to speak. On the other hand, maybe she was compelled to speak clearly and completely on the topic. However, on another evening it could have looked very different. Suppose my friend and her husband met for dinner after a long day to share an intimate dinner and rich conversation. Suppose they glanced for one moment at the lonely man sitting by himself. On this evening, spontaneous love for them looked like devotion and attention to their relationship. Both scenarios equal freedom.

The gospel unchains hearts
Rooted and established in the gospel, we are free to respond in many different ways. Our voices and deeds are free from tight and constricting requirements. We are not actors on a stage reading lines from a script. The gospel unchains our hearts and hands. The best part is that the gospel redeems our imperfect love. We do not have to regret and doubt and fear. We rest in the perfect love of Christ and the redemption in his eyes. “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The gospel is freedom in action. It loves, approves and accepts. It is always a round peg in a round hole (perfect). The gospel is unpredictable, surprising and refreshing. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18).

Lori Harding is the Director of Care Ministries and Women’s Support at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, as well as a small group leader and Bible study teacher. Email Lori [email protected].

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