“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Gal. 5:1
“You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:15
To say, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” is a pretty expansive statement, isn’t it? When you think about why it is that Jesus saved you, is freedom one of your first thoughts? It’s not really on my radar, and yet, according to these verses, it should be!
Jesus set us free *for* freedom. We are not free so we can make new lists of what we need to do to succeed. We’re not supposed to trade a worldly list of success–#1. Get a great job! #2. Be a size 2! #3. Own a big house! #4. Make lots of money! — for a Christian one — #1. Read your Bible! #2. Pray! #3. Go to church! #4. Volunteer! It’s not about doing things to make us acceptable to God. That’s already been done!
And therein lies the rub. The “Christian list” is not a recitation of things we’re supposed to write down and check off in order to please God. Christ set us free for freedom, remember? He came and lived a sinless life and died for us because we are incapable of doing that. His perfection is attributed to us as righteousness when we believe in His sacrifice and acknowledge His right to rule our lives. When we do that, we are officially set free. But how many of us walk right back into bondage?
People in bondage to either set of rules don’t bring glory to God. Bondage of any sort is generally pretty evident to the people around us. And no matter which list we’re in bondage to, the enemy loves it!
What on earth does that mean? I’ve actually heard people boast about abandonment of the “Christian list” as though it were something to be proud of … “I used to feel like I had to read my Bible every day, but now I’m free from that, hallelujah …” Mmmmm, I don’t think so. So if the “Christian list” isn’t supposed to be another point of bondage, what IS the point of it? FREEDOM!
(Okay, I have to take a second and tell you that I’m giggling, because for some reason, every time I type the word “freedom” I’m typing “freedome,” like I’m writing some Founding Father’s tome, LOL! So if any slip through … now you know why!)
A list that can lead to freedom? I think so. Actually, I’d have to say I know so, because I’ve experienced it. And yet, we have to be free from the list. Another great paradox of Christianity. It’s all about your viewpoint. We are human beings who are unlike God. His thoughts are above ours, His ways are above ours. He is holy — set apart — other than us. So we need touchpoints. We need ways to train ourselves to hear His voice and recognize it above the oft-times louder voices of the enemy, ourselves and the world. We need to talk to Him, to pour out our hearts and share all our most appalling secrets with Him. We need to come together with other believers and listen to His word expounded upon, to worship together, to remind ourselves that we’re not alone in our desire to follow Him. We need to serve because it’s good for us.
Have your spiritual disciplines become burdensome to you? Are you just checking off the list? Remind yourself that it was for freedom that Christ set you free. Open the Word today not with the thought of scoring points with some heavenly adjudicator, but with the thought that the God of heaven wants to talk to you! He wants to whisper freedom in your ear! Talk to Him in prayer because He loves you and wants to hear from you and annswer you! Go to church to rejoice in your relationships with the people there, and to remind yourself of heaven, and that one day all will be made right and everyone will bow their knee to the Creator of all things! Volunteer in the nursery/soup kitchen/greeter’s desk because you’re being taught to value others as God changes you into the image of Christ!
Be set free, in Jesus’ name!
If you want to read more about seeing your “Christian duties” as a delight, may I suggest two books which flesh out this idea in a fabulous way? Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster is an incredible study on this topic, as is The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard–another author you need to know!