Why do we resist freedom?

What is it about us as human beings that we resist being truly free? Why do we prefer to be held by fear, to be the victim or the perpetrator, the oppressed or the oppressor? Why do we cling to our woundedness? I’m asking myself this question: what lies am I believing about myself and those around me that keeps me from being all that God created me to be?

We were created by God to live in complete freedom. I’m not even sure we know what that looks like. But I do know that Jesus paid the ultimate price to make sure God’s promise of freedom would be fulfilled. Here’s what Paul tells us:

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal.5:1 MSG)

We must take a stand for freedom. Freedom is not passive but must be intentionally maintained. It’s like swimming against a strong current, if we’re not diligent we’ll go backwards. We may even sink and drown in our self-deception.

Let’s look at this “strong current.”

Do we allow ourselves to be enslaved to religious legalism because we won’t let go of our guilt and shame…or ego? Are we in servitude to political agendas and ideologies that promise us freedom but only keep us bound to their cause? I think this last question is especially appropriate for the time we live in right now.

We’re being constantly bombarded with marketing messages that tell us we’re missing something, that we’re not enough without “X.” How much money do we throw away chasing after an illusion because of a lie we believe about ourselves? Just look at the junk in your garage or closet for the answer.

Do we follow Twitter feeds more than Christ? Following our favorite pop stars, celebrities, and sports idols, like anything they might have to say could give us truth that makes us free?

What about political ideologies that divide us into “us vs. them,” economic status, race, gender, oppressed and oppressors, that plays on guilt because of skin color, that won’t let go of past sins, that forever separates what God has brought together in Christ?

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal.3:28 NASB)

Do we actually believe this? Then we must renounce whatever divides us.

Did you know that many of Caesar’s slaves were more free than Caesar himself in Paul’s day? These household servants were free because of Christ, not because of their social status.

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. (Phil.4:21-22 NIV*)

By the way, Paul was in prison when he said this! Freedom has nothing to do with your circumstances.

These believers in Rome, the center of first century civilization, worshiped together freely as one people: the most affluent with the slave. And they enjoyed a freedom far superior to anything social status or wealth could ever hope to bring.

By saying there are differences between us as human beings, we are denying Christ.

We cannot put our cultural indoctrinations over Christ, no matter how just these ideologies seem to be to us.

Beloved, please hear this: you are not a victim. You are “more than a  conqueror!” (Rom.8:37). But you can become an unwitting volunteer through empty and deceitful philosophies, like identity politics instead of your identity in Christ (see Col.2:8-10).

Do you want social justice? Good for you. Do you know how we will ever achieve it? Not through government or activist organizations, but through Christ. In fact, He has already done it! And when we truly follow Him, we will truly be one.

23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23 NIV)

The early church that turned the world upside-down had no social class distinction, no victims, no oppressed or oppressors, no gender inequality. All were one because all let go of their former life for Christ’s life.

20 “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine! (Gal.2:20 TPT)

I like how the NIV renders Galatians 5:1:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Did you let your heart hear that? It was for freedom! Freedom from fear, shame, guilt, oppression, depression, anxiety, hatred, revenge, addictions, division….from all of our self-indulgent foolishness. Don’t yoke yourself again to what Christ came to free you from.

During this crazy year where it seems everything has come unhinged, let’s not be driven by fear or popular culture. Let’s be wonderfully led by Christ, and let’s give Him His full reward by walking in His freedom. Amen.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Why do we resist freedom?

  1. Tricia says:

    Amen to that Mel, well said!

  2. Cool post, Mel! I think freedom may well be terrifying for many of us. With freedom comes accountability.

    I like how God leads the Israelites around in the wilderness for 40 years. They’re learning how not to be slaves. After a few hundred years, that’s all they know. They even want to go back to Pharaoh because they are hungry. Who is responsible for feeding us? Pharaoh! Who is accountable for our lack of food? Pharaoh! So God has to feed them until they can learn how to be free.

    With freedom comes accountability, responsibility, and at that point you realize you really need Jesus. Grace is actually a huge part of what enables us to be free. Somebody smart once pointed out that a big part of America’s success has to do with our willingness to embrace failure. We don’t really a have debtor’s prisons, bankruptcy is allowed, you don’t have to die for the family honor if your business collapses. More grace means more freedom which equals more innovation and prosperity.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Really good points, IB. Yes, it seems like Americans are a lot like Israel in the wilderness in that sense. The last couple of generations have coddled and disinfected their kids from everything, making sure they have no hardships and don’t have to overcome anything, and now we’re seeing the fruit of it, and it’s not good. So much of our character development, even feeling alive, is about overcoming obstacles and fear and getting out of our comfort zone.

      I love your comment here:
      “Somebody smart once pointed out that a big part of America’s success has to do with our willingness to embrace failure.”

      Amen! That is such an important part of living! 🙂

    • Citizen Tom says:

      @insanitybytes22

      What is it that causes us to be frightened of responsibility? Accountability is definitely one thing. It may be bit more complicated than that, but perhaps not.

      Some years back I went at the topic from a different direction (https://citizentom.com/2008/11/19/when-do-the-people-steal-their-own-freedom/). I used the obvious passage, John 8:31-38.

      In John 8:31-38, Jesus says He came to free us from sin. All of us are proud. None of want to admit we sin, but freedom requires repentance.

      Of course, that word accountability covers that too. To repent we must accept responsibility for — accountability for — our sins. So, I guess you are right, but freedom definitely requires more accountability than at first we might imagine.

      Still, there is yet another aspect of accountability we must consider. Repentance is not enough. We must also forgive. In, addition to accepting accountability for our own sins, when they repent we must accept responsibility for forgiving those we hold accountable for sinning against us.

      Strangely, this is a form of accountability we don’t wish to give up. Why? Then we can be the victim, and we don’t have to be responsible. I expect Moses, after leading those Hebrew slaves understood that well.

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