So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.Galatians 4:31-5:1
I’ve probably mentioned before, but this is the busiest season of my life to date. Just keeping up with my teenagers takes up many hours of my week. Thus my erratic posting…
At any rate, a recent read of the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass coupled with a study of Galatians has me thinking through Christian freedom.
As briefly as I can, I think I’ve spent much of my journey with the Lord grappling with the idea of freedom. It’s taken me some time to come to grips with exactly what it means to be free.
Perhaps this is due to the bizarre misunderstanding of the term, “freedom” my culture embraces. When most of us think of “freedom” in Christ, the mental picture we seem to conjure is more akin to licence than to actual freedom.
Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do whatever one wants. It’s so much better! The freedom Christ died to give is freedom from enslavement to sin. Freedom to choose not to sin, not freedom to engage in it.
The enemy of our soul is a liar whose goal is to steal our freedom and sell us a cheap substitute instead: a free-for-all instead of freedom. Licence instead of liberty.
Interestingly enough, the slavemasters of the 1800s apparently took a lesson from the ancient snake. As Mr. Douglass writes:
Thus, when the slave asks for virtuous freedom, the cunning slaveholder, knowing his ignorance, cheats him with a dose of vicious dissipation, artfully labelled with the name of liberty. The most of us used to drink it down, and the result was just what might be supposed: many of us were led to think that there was little to choose between liberty and slavery. We felt, and very properly too, that we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum.Fredrick Douglass
It’s the oldest trick in the Book. What God offers is genuine Joy, actual Liberty, a glimpse at real Life and honest Love, and our own self as we were created to be.
The enemy asks, “Did God really…?” and makes us question the Divine motive.
The snake makes love look like it’s withholding some mysterious and desirable thing. But in truth, he wants to bind us up in chains of addiction, sorrow, guilt, despair, anxiety, fear – all the nasty things we struggle under.
And that old serpent is so good at the game by now that he manages to convince us that our chains are freedom; that God wants to take something from us rather than turn us loose to live without fear and crippled by the shackles of our own cravings run amok.
The enemy glories in taking our liberty and sells us addiction, imprisonment, servitude. It especially feeds his miserable, vengeful core if he can sell us our bondage and make us think we need it to be happy. But he knows, friends, the greater the bondage, the less happiness we receive from it.
Oh how he loves to watch us squirm.
But Christ does offer freedom. Real, honest freedom.
Freedom to not need drink to have fun. Freedom to not need a hit or the next fix – of whatever.
Freedom to face death without fear, to let our kids go out into the world without anxiety, to meet the worst possible circumstance with a smile and confidence that whatever may happen to us here, our future is secure in Christ.
Freedom to live and die in victory, knowing that for those who are in Christ, death is really only the final freeing of our self from the temporary shelter of our mortal bodies, so that what is mortal can be swallowed up by Life.
Let freedom ring!