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What is Freedom?

03 Jul

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Note: Bill is now regularly posting for a blog devoted to healing those who struggle with PTSD or simply the struggles of life.  Check out “Warrior’s Well” at warriorswell.wordspress.com for a holistic approach to healing for those who are in the fight, day in and day out!

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:13–14 NLT)

There has been a lot of talk about freedom lately.  This is no surprise since we just experienced a fourth of July holiday here in the United States.  But here’s my question: What does freedom mean?

As I see it, modern culture tells us that freedom means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.  But is that really freedom?

Scripture has something to say about that, and this is where it takes a personal gut check and willingness to hear it out.  What we want is typically not what God wants.  We have inherited a fallen nature that predisposes us to a thing called sin.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Rom 5:12 NLT)

I find this true in my life: when I do whatever I want, it typically leads me to something that God did not intend.  The things I do against God’s desires are called sins with a small “s.”  But Sin with a capital “S” describes the condition of the human heart: the tendency to draw away from God’s desire for our lives.

And it gets worse, because the nature of Sin is to enslave.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the long line of people who choose drugs, alcohol, pornography, or even excess work (i.e., workaholics).  In almost every case we describe this choice as an addiction.

Addiction: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble).  (Merriam-Webster)

Notice it’s strong… and harmful.  If you’ve ever experienced any of these “choices,” you quickly realize that at some point, it doesn’t feel much like a choice any more.  That’s the point when we realize we have become enslaved to sin.  That’s the opposite of freedom.

So, what does Scripture have to say about all this?  First, Jesus himself tells us that we are free in Him.

“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:34–37 NLT)

So what do we do with our freedom?  According to the Apostle Paul, he says we should use our freedom to serve others.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:13–14 NLT)

Wait… what?  I have the freedom to choose anything and Paul is telling me to serve others?  That sounds like being a slave again!

If that’s the case, we fallen for a typical gut level response to God’s Word: we turn it off the minute we hear something we don’t agree with.  My encouragement is to keep reading, even if you don’t agree with what you see, until you have a chance to see how it fits into the big picture.

Notice what it doesn’t say: It doesn’t say to serve others like a slave.  It says to serve one another.  This is the essence of being in community with others.  It’s a chance to care for others yes, but it’s also a chance to be cared for… by many!

And notice what it does say:  We are to serve one another in love.  In other words, don’t serve out of a heavy sense of burden or obligation, serve one another out of choice.  I choose to love.  I don’t genuinely love because someone tells me I have to love. Love is a choice.

When I CHOOSE to serve others, and I CHOOSE to accept the gift of being served by others, I gain freedom from:

  • Lack of Purpose
  • Lack of meaning
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation

…and the list could go on.  But let me just cut to the chase: When we serve one another in love, we gain true freedom.

How will you use your freedom?

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Posted by on July 3, 2016 in Group Discussion

 

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