It’s possible to be alive without being liberated.
Under the old covenant, someone who had committed manslaughter could flee to one of the six cities of refuge in Israel. There their case would be tried by an assembly to determine whether the killing had been premeditated or accidental. If the death was determined to be accidental, they would be allowed to live—but only in that city. Leaving the city would mean that vengeance could be taken on them by a relative of the victim’s family. It was only after the death of the current high priest would the person be able to leave the city and resume a normal life. Until then, they had life but not liberation.
It can be that way with those who belong to Jesus Christ who is our refuge (we who have fled for refuge – Hebrews 6:18). We come to God through Him and like the person who committed manslaughter, we escape the penalty of death. We have life.
But sometimes people take that life and just hang around the city—content that they’ve checked the “God box” of life and everything is good. They take the marvelous riches of God’s love and stuff it in their pocket or purse or upload it to their cloud and proceed on with their lives. They go to church and are good people, but there’s no burning passion for the One who died and lives for them. There’s no overwhelming desire to share Him with others. Their pilot light is on, but there’s no flame. They have life, but not liberation.
They’re not all that different than those who show up at airports these days and get on a flight (some of them lasting as long as seven hours) and then when they deplane—they are at the same place where they started. They’re paying between $500 to $2,500 for a flight to nowhere. They’re still in the city.
There are those who leave the city and allow God to take them wherever His hands and heart need them to be. They recognize that God didn’t save them because they’re great; He saved them because He’s great. And it is this recognition enables them to find liberation by losing themselves in His love. It is this recognition that drives them to do more than just live—they live for Him. It’s what fueled Paul to say, It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:20).
We’ve fled to Jesus for refuge and You’ve blessed us with life in abundance. We want to move outside the city and be used by You to bless the world as you purposed from the very beginning. Please fill us with Your Spirit and send us where we’re needed. In Christ we pray. Amen.