Captives can't be captivated by Christ

Good morning Calvary,

I’m feeling relieved this morning. I’m also grateful.
 Lately I have had some pretty heavy words to share with you. So, although I try my hardest not to shy away from the difficult subjects, I’m also grateful when I don’t have something heavy on my heart to share. Such is the case today.

Today I want to direct your attention to the near future and the tremendous opportunity we all have once again to reach out to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family with the love of Christ. Easter is just over a month away. It’s one of those critical times of the year when a lot of people outside of the church still think about “going to church.” The staff here has been working on our end to get the word out. We will be putting an invitation into every mailbox we can at the end of March and beginning of April. The invitation will contain a very simple message like, “Stop searching” on one side and “You’ve been found by Jesus” on the other. This flows directly out of the truth that Jesus expressed to His disciples in the Upper Room, “You didn’t choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16)

The world is searching, all the while looking in the wrong places and running from the One who has already found them. Jesus is waiting for them to stop, look up, and bow down.

Yesterday, as I sat at home on my day off, I was thinking about Jesus and how He continually amazes me. I love the Lord. His work in my life, His faithfulness to me, His care and compassion, His grace and mercy; they’re all incredible. I want everyone to know Jesus like I do, but a lot of people don’t. As we look to Easter and the opportunity it presents, I want to consider with you, again, why people all around us don’t know Jesus like we do.

This weekend I mentioned at the end of my message the reality stated by Murray Harris, “Freedom leads to slavery and slavery leads to freedom.” How can we wrap our minds around this idea that seems so paradoxical? If you’ve given your life to Christ then you know its true experientially. You
 understand it’s more than just freedom from sin that slavery to Christ provides. Anyone who has walked with Jesus knows the “abundant life” He promised is very real. Jesus is captivating. He has captivated me.

What does it mean to be captivated? I think of the small child standing in front of a fire for the first time; the flickering flames captivating his gaze. That child is free to turn away and leave, but he doesn’t. He chooses to stay. There’s something about that which is captivating that draws us in and holds our attention. That’s what I mean when I sayJesus has captivated me. So why isn’t everyone captivated by Christ? This is
because in order to be captivated, you must first deal with your captivity.

The world can't be captivated by Jesus because they’re in captivity. However similar they sound these two realities are very different. Captivity is not captivating. In fact, captivity is quite the opposite of captivating. Not only is captivity different because it includes a real loss of freedom; captivity is also boring and monotonous. I’m referring to physical captivity, but spiritual captivity is no different, really. Not that I know personally, I’ve never been in physical captivity. I’ve never been in
 jail, or held against my will in some other context. Perhaps some of you have.

I’ve read stories of people held captive as prisoners of war. It’s nothing like the flickering flame of a fireplace. Dull is probably the best word to provide the contrast. Obviously, captivity is many other things, but dull is definitely one of them. The prisoner would do almost anything to be free to experience something captivating. So, too, humanity, still held captive by sin, longs to behold something truly captivating. Are you familiar with the mantra of the 60’s drug culture? “Free your mind,” people were told. Hallucinogenic drugs being the mode of supposed freedom at the time. It didn’t work. A different kind of bondage set in. That’s the freedom that leads to slavery. Yet the desire, the need for freedom, is perfectly analogous to that felt by the prisoner of war.

That’s the idea behind our Easter statement: “Stop searching.” Just like drugs didn’t provide freedom in the 1960s,
 nothingthe world is pursuing in our day will either. King Solomon called what the world is seeking after as “vanity of vanities.” In other words, pointless, like a “chasing after the wind.” His conclusion? “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” It’s only when man makes themselves God’s slaves that they will find fulfillment; only then will they be free to be captivated.

We have to continue to preach the steadfast and unchanging truth of God in an always changing world.

Pray for the captives all around you. Pray that this Easter would be the time that someone you know finds the true freedom that only comes through slavery.

A Slave of Christ,

Pastor Justin