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.