As children, we grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing about the home of the free. Our nation has fought wars for it—both for ourselves and for others—for centuries. American culture places a high value on freedom, but is it manifested in the lives of those who love and live for Christ?
If you look around the Church today, you’ll likely find almost as many proverbial shackles inside as you will outside. Exhaustion, anxiety, overwhelming debt, and secret sin addictions plague the body of Christ. But this is no way to live! Really, it’s not even living: it’s existing, lasting until the last day. Jesus came so that we could “have life to the full” (John 10:10). Believers should be on the front lines of those who know the abundant goodness of our God, not dwindling to dust in the back row of life. How are we to live fully when bondage weighs us down? It is time to throw off the ties that bind and run full-throttle into the grace and glory of Jesus.
If you google “free definition,” something fascinating and profound comes up as a result: the adjective comes before the verb. Stay with me—this will hopefully blow your mind. Just let me geek out for a minute. Adjectives describe nouns while verbs show what nouns do. (You are a noun.) If you transfer this to the spiritual realm, defining what we do comes after defining who we are. So in regard to freedom, the adjective definition is “not restrained, obstructed, or fixed; unimpeded.” The verb’s definition is “release from captivity, confinement, or slavery.” So as a result of who we are (unrestrained, free people bought by Christ), we act (by going to release others from their slavery). It’s one word with two meanings, both crammed with scriptural truth about how we are to live: first by knowing who we are, and then by behaving accordingly. This is the gospel, that Jesus is freedom.
It’s true that when we enter God’s family, we are freed from our previous slavery to sin (Romans 6:18). But over time, it’s so easy to get bogged down again by old habits and beliefs. After becoming queen, Cinderella moves closer and closer to the kitchens out of familiarity, and before she knows it, she’s covered in soot and rags again, scrubbing floors on her knees (despite the protests of her husband). This doesn’t remove her status as royalty, although it greatly affects her impact as queen. She’s too busy acting like someone she used to be to be of any use to the kingdom now. We have been given the status of freed royalty, but we run back to the chains we knew before knowing Jesus.
Following this outline of internal and then external (who you are dictates what you do, remember?), we will move systematically from a look inside each of us personally to dealing with the outside world. There are so many kinds of freedom (physical, emotional, financial, and psychological, just to name a few), and we will work our way through them one at a time. When we have thrown off our own shackles in these areas, we will finish out by learning how to free others from their bondage. Freed people free people.
This focus is going to be an awfully big adventure. Nothing worthwhile has ever been easy, so prepare yourself now for some discomfort and inconvenience. The former things call out with a loud voice, tempting us to go back and be quiet and comfortable. But this is why Jesus came, to give us life to the full. And whoever the Son sets free is free indeed. Please let it be.