Does your whole life sometimes feel like one big “have to”? I know mine does. I have to…get the boy to soccer practice, gas up the car, pay the bills, fix the dead car battery, take the dog for a walk, and on and on and on. On occasion I ask myself “When does ‘have to’ stop and ‘want to’ start?” When will our seemingly endless to do lists be complete so the fun can begin?

I’ve been thinking about this notion of “have to” vs. “want to” in the context of our theme for this school year “New in Christ” based on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Our special subtheme for December is “New in Christ: Serve in the New Way of the Spirit!” based on Romans 7:6: “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” I love this “new way of the Spirit” because that means my life with Jesus is not motivated by fear, compulsion, or a list of requirements. Our faith is not a “checklist Christianity” that requires us to live up to a code established by God. Instead we are covered by His grace and set free by Jesus’ death and resurrection. And that freedom means our life can be one big “want to” based on serving God and loving others out of thankfulness and praise. That changes my whole outlook – I want to get my son to soccer in thanks to God for the gift of a child and his athletic ability. I want to pay the bills because I am grateful for a wonderful job and the income that comes with it. My life really is one big “want to” when I see it through the lens of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for me. I want to encourage you to “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16.