So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. –Mark 15:1b
Jesus — the Creator of everything — being bound.
When I read the story of Jesus’ arrest before His crucifixion, the words “they bound Jesus” jump off the page. Think about this: According to the first few verses in John chapter 1, nothing exists that Jesus did not create. That means He made the materials in the cords, ropes or chains with which that mob shackled Him. He allowed His creation to restrict Him. What a mind-blowing concept.
And yet, He does the same with us. He created us with the free will to obey or disobey Him. Still, He is loving, gentle and disciplined, not forcing anyone to do anything against his or her will. Just like the shackles that bound Jesus, each person holds the ability to restrict the God of the universe. Oh, to be sure, He will fulfill His eternal purpose and predetermined will with or without our participation. Though He invites our involvement, He still grants the freedom to allow Him free reign or restrict what He desires to do.
Very few people intentionally or blatantly refuse Him. Yet there are some subtle ways by which we bind Him and constrict His transforming efforts.
1. Self-righteousness – By relying on our own good deeds and arrogant uprightness, we bind God’s righteousness from having its full effect. Scripture reminds us it’s through His righteousness, and His alone, that we are saved or transformed into Christlikeness. Nothing we do or don’t do adds or subtracts from His righteousness.
2. Legalism – When our self-righteousness or spiritual self-importance is imposed on others, we bind the unity of the body of believers. Legalism not only “sows discord among the brethren,” it also deceives the legalist. Christ set the example of loving service to others while Paul encouraged believers not to think more highly of themselves than they should.
3. Personal agenda – When we have stringent, focused goals without God’s involvement or direction, we bind His leading, anointing and blessing. Confidence and passion are wonderful qualities; however, they are most effective in the pursuit of His will, not ours. Even Jesus said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Until or unless our personal agenda, goals and pursuits are absorbed in and through His will, we restrict what He wants to do through us.
4. Prayerlessness – Without a consistent prayer life, we bind the flow of communication with our Heavenly Father. Successful communication involves at least two entities sharing with and listening to each other. This is what happens in prayer: We express our praise, worship, desires, thankfulness and requests, then we become silent listeners while He speaks His heart to us.
5. Absence of love – When we are unloving or unlovable, we bind His ability to love others through us. The distinguishing characteristic of a Christ-follower is the love exhibited in his or her life. Since God is love, and if He is our Father, then love should be the family trait or resemblance evident in our lives.
6. Unforgiving spirit – When we harbor resentment and unforgiveness toward others, we bind the forgiveness with which God has forgiven us. A scriptural truth is that mercy will be given to the merciful; it isn’t much of a stretch to understand how an unforgiving spirit restricts harmonious interaction between flawed humans who invariably make mistakes.
7. Quenching the Holy Spirit – When we resist the Holy Spirit’s influence, movement or direction, we bind God’s interaction in our lives as well as in the lives of others. God works through people. When we are unavailable or unwilling to participate in what He is doing, we prevent His blessings. Inevitably, He will fulfill His purpose; yet, we will miss out on His abundance, we may withhold blessings from others, and we may subject ourselves to His discipline.
My prayer is that we avoid all restrictions with which we bind our Creator. Let’s allow Him full and unfettered access to our lives. Let’s passionately promote the unrestrained fulfillment of His perfect will. Let’s actively pursue His transforming work as He conforms us into His likeness.
Heavenly Father, I willingly loose you from all my restrictions. Transform and use me as you will.