Free to Celebrate
Grant lives with his wife and kids in Seoul, South Korea.
The kingdom of God is a kingdom of freedom. Because we’ve been given everything we could ever need, we are free to give away everything we have. In the kingdom of God, we are free to eat and drink because we are already satisfied with the Spirit of his Son living in our hearts.
Here’s another way the kingdom of God sets us free: we are free to celebrate! And who has more to celebrate than those who have been set free from sin and death?
South Korea is a hard-working culture. Perfection is valued and success is honored above most everything else. Koreans often look to their job performance (and school performance) for their identity and satisfaction. The average South Korean averages 2,069 hours of work per year, the second highest in the world. In response to this overwork, South Korea also has many public holidays, the government’s form of mandatory vacation time. I experience these holidays uniquely each year because my school is located down the street from all the bars and clubs. I know it is a holiday when there is a traffic jam at 5:30 a.m. on my way to work. The world labors to prove themselves and they often celebrate as an escape.
As Christians we are free to celebrate through our work for the glory of God and we can celebrate with rest because the most important work in the history of the universe was completed on the cross two thousand years ago. Christians can celebrate that the kingdom of God is in our midst! We celebrate because our eternity is secured, our enemy has been defeated, and all our present suffering is not in vain because all things work together for good. We have hope, so we celebrate.
Let us as Christians be the first to celebrate. Let us be known for the best parties, and may we celebrate, not as an escape from work but as a witness of God’s work. May our celebrations be a foretaste of our heavenly banquet to come. This Christian posture of celebration should mark our lives and we should live differently than our neighbors, eat differently than our neighbors, give differently than our neighbors.
God calls us to a rich and satisfying life. In his book, Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says,
If you ask most people what Christians believe, they can tell you, ‘Christians believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that Jesus rose from the dead.’ But if you ask the average person how Christians live, they are struck silent. We have not shown the world another way of doing life. Christians pretty much live like everyone else; they just sprinkle a little Jesus in along the way.
Christian brothers and sisters, how are you living? Is your life pretty much like everyone else? Are you spending your time, talents, and money the same way as the world? Are you celebrating to escape from something?
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1).
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor 13:5).
This is not a competition to earn God’s favor through works or a judgmental condemnation to inspire the fear of man’s disapproval. We live differently because Jesus lived differently and we are his disciples. Jesus called us to a better kingdom. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14).
Live differently from the world my brothers and sisters. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet 2:11-12).
May the kingdom of God lead you to give, to eat, to celebrate, and to live differently, to live free!