“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
The dictionary definition is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. So important is freedom that it, in concept, is what Christ has set us free for:
Why are we free? For freedom.
But, like anything else, our concept of freedom has been corrupted. Just as our bodies deteriorate and die off as a result of the fall, so everything else in the universe has been altered. Changed. Flipped. So much so that when we think of freedom, we think of an absence of restraint.
In that mindset, freedom is being able to do anything in the world that we want to. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll included. But that definition falls apart a bit when we start asking the real question of ourselves:
What do our actions reveal that we really feel constrained to do? What is truly enslaving us?
This is where the rubber meets the road because a thousand times a day I do things that, if I’m honest, I do because I am constrained to do them. And I’m not talking about paying taxes or going to work here. It’s other things that in my heart of hearts I must do. Things like taking up for my rights in a given situation. Things like making sure my opinion is heard. Things like giving voice to my anger. Even things like eating what I want to eat when I want to eat. These are really the things that constrain me if I’m honest. And it’s the things like these that the gospel frees me from.
In the case of the Galatians above, they were free from the legalist mindset that told them they needed to perform certain bodily operations in order to earn the acceptance of God. From these things they were free because Jesus has done everything necessary for that acceptance. And there is freedom in that. Freedom from performance. Freedom from earned love. Freedom from constant justification of approval. And that freedom trickles down into all other areas of life.
When I am tired and feel that I must have time for myself, I am free to give a bit more.
When I think the finances won’t go any further, I am free to trust and be generous.
When I think I am being mistreated, I am free to eat that mistreatment for the sake of another.
When I think I am under appreciated, I am free to continue to give my all regardless of who sees.
When someone has truly wronged me, I am free to fully forgive them.
When I am tempted to hide my true self from others, I am free to bear my all.
And when all of the above fails… When I willingly enslave myself again to my anger or self-justification or impatience or vengeance… When I choose to live on the basis of my merit and rights rather than in the freedom of full acceptance in Jesus… I am free to look to the morning when God’s mercies will be new. Again.