Are you truly free? What does it look like to live a life of true freedom?
The apostle Paul stated, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then…” (Galatians 5:1). Paul knew Christianity to be a truly liberating force for the human heart. Jesus did not give His life for us just so we could obey some rules. He offered full forgiveness as well as the power of a transformed life with the power to fully love and follow God.
One of my favorite authors, John Piper, defined “Full Freedom” as “the opportunity, the ability, and the desire to do what truly brings lasting pleasure and joy forever.” This kind of freedom will truly bring you good and not harm in the end. Imagine you were going to go skydiving for the first time but on your way to the airport you suffered a flat tire and missed the plane’s take off. At least on that day, you lost the freedom of opportunity.
Let’s say you made it to the airport on time, but had never been trained to sky dive. You have the opportunity, but you are lacking the ability and understanding of how to hurl yourself safely out of a plane at 12,000 feet. You are in bondage into your own lack of know-how.
Let’s say that you have been trained, however, so you arrive and the plane takes off for your first jump. For some mysterious reason, you peek out over the wing and see the ground and all of the objects below that look like ants and suddenly you have lost all desire to jump. You become scared to death and no longer have the freedom of desire. You can overcome this to some extent. If you are a guy, imagine your girlfriend has already jumped before you. You either risk the embarrassment of being called a big sissy for the rest of your life, or you can go ahead and jump. You realize you have a greater fear of looking weak than jumping — so you jump. As you jump, it does not feel like full freedom though. It is not liberty that caused you to jump but emotions of shame.
Many Christians can live like this in their obedience to Christ. It is not done out of love for Christ and true desire to obey but they feel uncomfortably restrained in other ways. They succumb to religious pressures to be nice or be good, or perhaps they are restrained by fear of God’s punishment if they mess up. Perhaps they have some internal restraint of guilt that tells them they should be moral or godly. This is not all bad, as it can help keep us in check so we do not make horrible mistakes. True obedience to Christ is not always easy, but it should actually flow out of a love and desire to obey Christ. This is true freedom — when we really have a desire to please Jesus.
One last requirement for full freedom — it must be for your good. Imagine you jumped out of the plane into a thrilling free fall. You were totally enjoying the moment when you discovered a malfunction and your parachute would not open. Your freedom to jump seemed like such a cool, fun thing, but now you realize you are on a free fall of self-destruction. Every day around us, men and women jump into a free fall of sex, greed, drugs, alcohol, materialism, etc. Often as Christians, we even sometimes envy their so called freedom, but we often forget that they will hit the ground really hard and it will not be pretty.
True freedom must end in our eternal joy and pleasure forever. Jesus came to give us true freedom — a freedom that would liberate our hearts to fully love God and fully love others in a way that would end in our eternal joy and pleasure for all eternity. Are you free? Are you truly free? May Jesus Christ set you free. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.