Encounter: Respect Their Freedom

At Gateway Church in Austin we began a new series called “Encounter: Learning from How Jesus Did Relationships.”  This week at the South Campus Bruce Gilson shared. Here are some of his insights:

“At Gateway, we have created an experience where people can interact with the Scriptures and with God no matter where they might be in their spiritual journey. This is a place where you can freely ask questions and express your doubts and fears.

Some of us may think of the church as a place that uses condemnation to manipulate people to do what they want people to do. That may be true in some cases. Dallas Willard refers to this as condemnation engineering.

The religious leaders in the days of Jesus used this method. 

Jesus told a parable to the religious leaders in which workers were all paid the same amount no matter how long they worked that day to point out that Jesus’ ways are not the same as their ways. Jesus offers life to people the religious leaders may not think deserve it. Life comes through turning away from our wicked choices and asking God for forgiveness. All need His forgiveness – including the religious leaders. This life is offered to all – no matter where they may be coming from. Matthew 20:1-15

All willing people can be restored. Jesus offers hope and not condemnation (John 3:16-17).

Jesus rescued a woman who was caught in the act of adultery from the death penalty. He offered grace and love and then the truth that her life needed to change. This change wasn’t the way for her to experience God’s love. His love is already there for her. Instead, she can change with His help and as a response to His love.

When we are wronged, we should still value people when we address them.

Jesus didn’t try to change people’s behavior as His main goal. His main goal was to bring life through a relations with Him. This new life leads to changed behavior. God values our freedom knowing that true love must be chosen rather than forced or manipulated.

Jesus engages people at their point of need. The religious leaders preached at people rather than caring for people’s needs. God is ok with our doubts and questions, and so are we. 

Gateway partners with other churches in a group referred to as “in the city and for the city”. Together we conducted a survey of people in Austin. Even though only 15% of Austinites attend church, over 60% were interested in having spiritual conversations (dialogues not monologues) and 30% would go to church if a friend invited them.

Jesus values freedom AND wants us to choose to obey out of love and a willingness to trust Him. 

Once we are following Jesus, we need to be willing to have the hard conversations necessary with each other to help each other change. Luke 17:3-4

Are you living under condemnation or God’s grace? How are we treating others around us?”

You can watch this message here in a couple of days and the rest of the series at http://www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.

  • Henry Zonio

    Isn’t this what “unconditional” love is about anyway? Thanks for sharing this. I love the way it’s articulated.

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