The following is an excerpt from Philip Yancey’s latest book Vanishing Grace.

As pastor of a thriving church in Manhattan, Tim Keller often converses about faith with skeptics and post-modern Christians, and he has leaned to present sin no so much as “doing bad things” as “making good things into ultimate things.”

Keller says, “Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell that that are sinning because they are looking to their romances to give their lives meaning, to justify and save them, to give them what they should be looking for from God.  This idolatry leads to anxiety, obsessiveness, envy, and resentment.  I have found that when you describe their lives in terms of idolatry, postmodern people do not give much resistance.  Then Christ and his salvation can be presented, not so much as their only hope for forgiveness, but their only hope for freedom.”

Unless we love natural goods, sex, alcohol, food, money, success, power, in the way God intended, we become their slaves, as any addict an attest.  Jesus demonstrated in person how to live freely and fully, and not surprisingly he upset the religious establishment in the process.  I cannot imagine anyone following Jesus around for two or three years and commenting, “Think of all he missed out on.”  More than likely they would say, “Think of all I am missing out on.”

Eugene Peterson points out that “the root meaning in Hebrew of salvation is to be broad, to become spacious, to enlarge.  It carries the sense of deliverance from an existence that has become compressed, confined, and cramped.”  God wants to set us free, to make it possible for us to live open and loving lives with God and our neighbors.  “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32 NIV).

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