How’s your spirit? “Free and merry”?
We’re hounded by so many “so many’s” (so many expectations, so many calls to make, so many meetings to attend…) it’s not easy to face the tasks of the day in the free and merry spirit the Lord desires.
You’re not alone. It’s an occupational hazard of people in ministry professions to be overwhelmed by the unending harvest, the ceaseless criticism of our performance and lifestyle. Even in summer, the pace is relentless.
We’re called to, and redeemed for, a life of good works. We proclaim the grace of God to everyone else, but find it hard to live by that grace ourselves.
“Free and merry” comes from (of all places) The Book of Concord! In the Solid Declaration, Article VI, we find, “However, when people are born again through the Spirit of God and set free from the law (that is, liberated from its driving powers and driven by the Spirit of Christ), they live according to the unchanging will of God, as comprehended in the law, and do everything, insofar as they are reborn, from a free and merry spirit.”
Nice. The fruit of the Spirit is free and merry!
That’s what I love about Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. He makes the case for free and merry baptismal living that every one of us needs to hear constantly.
If you struggle to maintain the joy of life with God and the joy of life in ministry, you’re not alone. At Grace Place Wellness, we’re convinced that the roots of the church worker wellness crisis are the unrelenting demands of ministry and the leading symptom of brokenness in our lives is the absence of joy.
When things are starting to go wrong, the life of ministry starts to become just a job. The duties of the office become, well, just duties. Piety, the joy of life in Christ, becomes pietism, a false show disguising a hollow lifestyle.
The gospel is the antidote. Baptismal grace is the cure. The love and mercy of Jesus cancel the law’s demands and launch us on a new way of life. Free and merry.
So how’s your spirit? Need some “free and merry”?
Jesus has a gift for you. It’s a note of encouragement. He sent it first to the Ephesians. It’s a message of grace and joy and a whole new way of living, free and merry, because of the finished work of Christ in you.
Take a mini-retreat. Read Ephesians nice and slow (it’s under 20 minutes when You Version reads it to you). Watch for all the references to baptism interlaced through the whole letter, not just in the opening chapters, but all the way through, even in the inappropriately titled “ethical section” of chapters 4-6.
Remember your baptism. Take a deep breath. “Lord, have mercy.” Put off the old. Be made new. Put on the new.
Bathe in his grace. Then dive back in to today’s tasks. Free and merry.
More on Ephesians the rest of this month. Thanks for reading.