If you but love God you may do as you incline.

-Augustine

  

I’ve stumbled across a story from the life of President Abraham Lincoln a time or two now about an appointee within the president’s cabinet that would try to challenge and stimy the president every chance he got.  A friend of honest Abe’s finally came to him and asked why he didn’t have the pesky man replaced.  Lincoln, in turn—told his well-meaning friend a story about walking down a country road one day and coming upon a farmer who was busy plowing his field with a horse-drawn plough.  As Lincoln approached the farmer he noticed a jumbo sized horsefly on the back-side of the working horse and figured it couldn’t be helping the poor horse concentrate on the task at hand.  Lincoln—in an attempt to help the farmer out, went to simply brush off the little pest.  As Lincoln raised his hand to take a swat, the farmer protested—Don’t do that, friend.  That horsefly is the only thing keeping this old horse moving.    

The moral of the story for today’s lesson is simple: Religion is nothing more than a jumbo horsefly and there are those within certain circles of the church who’d like you to do anything—and I stress anything—other than contribute to freeing people from living under the irritating and deadly oppression that religion represents.  Those caught up in the facade of religion do not like any one who messes with their religion and they are not afraid to tell you so—to mess with religion is to mess with God.  Many church leaders feel the need to use religion to do the same exact thing the farmer was doing with the  horsefly—use religion and the endless rules that accompany it as a means of motivating others to live the Christian life.  

These preachers of bondage wouldn’t know freedom if it hit them upside the head.  In his letter to the Galatian believers—Paul had something entirely different to say than what the peddlers of religion in his day were preaching.

 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a ‘law man’ so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine,’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.    (Galatians 2:19-20, The Message Bible)

There is a better way. 

It’s called freedom—and it can be a rare commodity in some circles.

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