Freedom I can believe in – part 1 (3/3)

“Yeah but?! “

It’s what you hear, when, even though the argument has been made, someone might still say to object.

The question I posed in my first blog was this: ‘How free are we really in Christ?’

Paul is saying that we are free and free indeed! Jesus said that as well.

But not everyone agrees. Opponents of such a ‘freedom’ again may argue that this crazy type of freedom can still give people the impression that they can sin and get away with it. After all, they are not under the law any longer but under grace. Do you see the struggle here? What is now the reference point? What do we need to do? If it’s not following the law, what then? Where does it leads us?

Paul powerfully argues that freedom from the law of Moses does not have to lead to licentious living. Righteousness can potentially be interpreted that way and that’s why Christians are quick to throw in a few rules and do’s and don’ts, consciously or unconsciously to keep people in line. In the end of the day it about relationship.  In fact, being free within the context of a love relationship with God, leads you to not wanting to sin. When you love God, you don’t want to offend Him, because you love Him. If this is true for human relationships, how much more with God? Still this a choice we need to make every day of our lives, not by striving harder, but by trusting more.

Sin after all is an over-promiser and under-performer. It promises you everything, but it leaves you with nothing. It’s a slave master.

I very well remember the time I was in a love relationship with someone, even before I met Janine. Even though I didn’t know the first thing about dating, I was in love with her. I was still a very young Christian and I seriously didn’t know much about the Christian life yet. As this thing of intimacy with this girl was new, exciting and also confusing, I didn’t know what to do with this relationship. My childhood and teenager years taught me to be very careful with trust and opening up. Still, my heart desired to be known by someone, even though that was scary at times. This relationship became the source of much frustration later on as she and I became intimate too fast too soon. We even moved in together as I already didn’t live with my folks anymore. It seemed right to us, but somehow, somewhere, there was this voice of my conscience saying that this was not right. Yes, I loved her and she loved me, but the relationship was not safe. The commitment was frail and the need to be loved and accepted clouded our judgment over how we really saw each other. We eventually broke up after 9 months. Heart-broken and with doubts about relationships and intimacy, God showed me something important throughout this time of my life.

Freedom is only freedom when we play it by God’s manual (His word). It’s not that I had to follow rules and regulations to be right with Him, but it was about loving God and because of that following His example. Being known first of all means to be known by God. He can be the only true source of love and life for us. He knows how we are wired and that love and intimacy first needs solid ground to flourish. Human intimacy flows from this place of security. Unfortunately intimate relationships have increasingly become ‘consumer relationships’. Just watch TV and you know what I am talking about. It’s first about what is in it for you. There needs to be chemistry, attraction and fulfilment first before any other commitment is made.  In Amsterdam I saw up close and personal how many people in their twenties and thirties, still single and often in and out of a relationship, find it so hard to commit to someone. Fears of heartbreak, rejection and restrictions to freedom, led many of them to loneliness. It’s the loneliest place to be.

Intimacy with God means that He knows you just the way you are. He loves you. What He wants for you and me, is to be united with Him. He gave you ‘your’ life. That’s why Jesus’ live and our lives are so intimately connected when we are baptized. It’s a bold declaration of saying that ‘my life is His and His life is mine’. It’s powerful!

I know that many of us would like to see more ‘fruit’ in life. It’s not that we don’t love God. It’s not even that we don’t fully believe in Him. Yet, the lives we live sometimes seem to be limited by ‘something’. What is it? Fear? Doubt? Past hurts and mistakes? It is experienced ‘as if’ we are it that cage with the door wide open, wondering if we can really step out or not.

Paul says this toward the end of chapter 6:22

‘But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness and the end, everlasting life’.

The outcome of living with and for God is to live lives that are really pleasing to God. He wants us to live holy, different lives, but that is not based on our hard efforts of being right with Him. He did that already for us and now wants to develop His live also in us daily. The big question that we perhaps need to ask ourselves is this: Are we still slaves? What is really driving us to do the things we do?

Jesus said that once we get to know the truth, it would truly set us free. How free do you really want to be? Many ‘Tweener Christians’ want to be free enough to avoid eternal punishment, but never experience the power over sin and death, because they still want to cling on to ‘their lives’. Freedom is the ultimate value. The reality is: “You were never, ever made for you! You were created for Him! What do you have to lose here? Why wouldn’t you give up that life that you were never meant to live and take on His life that really sets free?”

Paul shows us a choice here and this choice we need to make daily. The hard work has already been done through Christ. He has opened up the way to reconnect with God again. How free can we be if we do it God’s way?

What do you really believe about freedom? Is it not having any restrictions on your life? Or is there more to it?

Paul said this in another letter the following words and here I will conclude. He says it in Galatians 5:1

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and DO NOT be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

That’s you in Christ, if you believe that.

You are free at last!