If I said it was cold outside, how would you prepare? Most people would get a coat. Others would add layers and bundle up. Some wouldn’t go out at all! We interpret words based on our history, culture, and the definitions we give to them.
For instance, when a missionary shared the Gospel with a primitive tribe in the mountains of West New Guinea, they cheered for Judas instead of Jesus! Their culture applauded deception! They celebrated those who strategically befriended and betrayed enemies. It was a heroic survival. Fortunately, this missionary found another element of their culture to reflect the Gospel, and they understood and embraced the message. But what about us?
When we hear the word freedom, what do we think about? In the USA, we are from the “land of the free.” We have a statue of liberty. We have freedom of speech and religion. As a democracy, we are free to vote and have our say. Many Americans have a “nobody is going to infringe on my rights” perspective of freedom.
But is that the correct definition to take into the Gospel message of liberty in Christ Jesus? Does it mean we have the right to act, think, or speak in any way we want? Because if it’s as wrong as betrayal being celebrated, or even somewhat inaccurate, we may misunderstand freedom. If we live a Christian life based on our culture, we run into disappointment.
When we look for what freedom gives and throw away what it requires, we miss the idea of genuine freedom!Joe Duininck
Be Truly Free
Jesus told the Jews how to be free, but they thought they had never been in bondage. They needed clarity.
John 8:31–36 (NIV)
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We don’t usually think about obeying a command and being free in the same sentence. But Jesus said that to be free, we have restrictions. If we obey His commands, then we will be free.
When we look for what freedom gives and throw away what it requires, we miss the idea of genuine freedom! We can’t shake off godly responsibility. That is not what freedom is.
Free to Be You
True liberty in Christ is the ability to walk in what He has planned for us to do with His provision and supply! Freedom is finding our place in God’s family that is uniquely designed for us. Gifts are deposited in us so we can fill that place.
There is freedom in not having to be somebody else! We are free from comparing or copying someone else’s gift, calling, or place in the Body of Christ. We can be what we are called to be. There is freedom in that!
If we think freedom is the absence of responsibility, we will never be free. If we believe it is only what we have been delivered from and not what we have been brought into, we only understand freedom partially. If we mix God’s freedom with what culture says, we will be dissatisfied because it isn’t true freedom.
We are free from a life of sin, sickness, and death—but we are free to live with purpose and lay down our lives for others. Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” Let’s use our freedom to love one another deeply and live a dedicated, sacrificial life to God.
[Editor’s Note: Joe Duininck is an instructor at Rhema Bible Training College and the director of Rhema School of World Missions.]
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