Today is the last day of school for my kids and they are pumped! It is a half-day and students are watching movies, eating cake and did not have to bring their books and backpacks. When we were kids we would chant, “No more classes, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks!” Of course this is ridiculous, but there is always a sense of exhilaration at completing the school year and finally being FREE for the summer.
You never quite appreciate the great freedom of summer as a kid. We might think it is not a big deal, but freedom of any kind is directly connected to being under good authority. Our parenting and acceptance of responsibility over our kids, is what allows for them to experience care-free summers. We drive them to the lake to go swimming, we pay for camp, the house, their clothes… groceries.
The Psalmist writes, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” (Ps. 114:45) As adults, and growing kids, we learn our true freedom lies under the responsible care of a loving God. One who has not left us without direction, purpose or correction. I have found great freedom in my relationship with God, reading his Word, prayer and the discipline of study. I recently finished reading (with the Renton pastor’s book club) a great book called, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times – Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What by Peter Steinke. It taught an interesting definition of leadership, “A self-defined person with a non-anxious presence.” Jesus displays this all over the place… I picked a random chapter from John’s Gospel, and here he exhibits presence, peace and self-differentiation 4 times:
John 16:1-4 - Jesus gives a hard teaching so that the disciples might remain steadfast. He is aware of their troubles, yet calls them forward.
John 16:7 - Jesus explains why it is important that he leaves, so the Holy Spirit will come and be with them. He even overtly says why he is saying all of this: he is leaving soon.
John 16:19, 29 - Jesus picks up on their confusion and could see they wanted to ask him things. Jesus tries to bring clarity… the disciples are grateful and believe.
John 16:31-33 - Jesus acknowledges their belief, but continues to point out the truth… telling them they will scatter and be persecuted.
Jesus gifts the world a different form of authority. It is present, it is honest, it is filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and under it we experience true freedom. Paul even declares, “ It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) As my friend Pastor Loggins likes to say, “It is good to be under God’s authority!”
So how do your kids spend the summer? What do you do with your freedom? Surely a great topic for another post… but my simple suggestion: focus on his good Word and enjoy his creation… and get your summer reading list going!
Just for fun, my theology reading suggestions (which I loved from MY schooling this year): ‘Proper Confidence’, and ‘Foolishness to the Greeks’, Newbigin; ‘Delighting in the Trinity’, Reeves; ‘Disappearing Church’, and ‘Strange Days’, Sayers; ‘One with Christ’, Johnson, ‘Abide in Christ’, Murray. (Next Pastor’s book club book? 'Newton on the Christian Life' by Tony Reinke)