Sunday, April 2, 2017

Place of Freedom

"Freedom is such a difficult concept. If we aren't careful, it can end up with us living 
 in bondage. We make choices based on our desires, our wishes, what we 
think is best, but when we forget to factor God into the equation, 
it's almost guaranteed that we'll get the wrong answer."

Not long ago, I heard Levi Lusko say something about freedom. Basically, what we think will set us free makes us captives and what we think will keep us captive sets us free. Let me explain.

We've all seen the commercials about becoming enslaved to smoking. You think you are making the choice to light up because you are fine with ignoring the health consequences that can result from this lifestyle choice. However, a point comes where the addiction is so strong, you have to light up. It's no longer about what you want to do but what you need to do.

I think we tend to see God the same way. We look at what His Word says and think it's a huge list of 'thou shalt nots' instead of a guide to make sure you don't end up in a pile of ick. We want to claim free will and hold on to it with both hands, but the reality is we can abuse that freedom very easily and find ourselves in a place where we are anything but.

So the question becomes how do we know the difference and how do we follow through with the right choice?

I'm not exactly sure. But I think I have an idea.

The Israelites, during their wilderness journey, told Moses that they would listen to what God told them to do but that they didn't want to talk to Him directly. They wanted to know the difference between right and wrong because it would take 'thought' out of the process. It's easier to follow the instructions than guess your way through.

But here's the thing, even when they got their list of rules, they still didn't follow them! Why? Because we all want to do what we want to do and we don't like being told otherwise. We desperately want to make our own choices because we think that's what freedom is. But Jesus clearly explained why this doesn't work when He said that if you try to preserve your life (the things you want) you'll lose it and if you lose it (the things that aren't good for you), you'll actually save it.

Freedom is such a difficult concept. If we aren't careful, it can end up with us living in bondage. We make choices based on our desires, our wishes, what we think is best, but when we forget to factor God into the equation, it's almost guaranteed that we'll get the wrong answer. But if instead we love God first and foremost and seek to do what will bring Him glory, that will always be for our good. Every.Single.Time.

When you love someone, you don't do anything to hurt them intentionally. You might do something accidentally that causes harm, but you don't set out with destruction in mind. Acting out of our love for God is the same. If we know what He says and decide to believe He's said it out of His love for us, then following through with His guidelines becomes about a relationship.

But this isn't easy. We don't want to give up what we want. But holding on to it not only distances our hearts from His, it keeps us bound up, stuck, and unable to truly live in the freedom He died to give us.

I recently told a friend that any time you feel judged walking into a church, you need to remember that Jesus came for the sick and lost because the healthy don't need a doctor. And every person there, if they are honest, will tell you that they need Jesus more than they need their next breath. We are all battling something and fighting desperately for the freedom God intends us to have. But in that freedom lies boundaries that keep us safe. The question is, will we trust that what He says is right, or will we insist on biting that apple to find out for ourselves?

Jesus, I have been either living on the boundary lines, teetering on the edges, or falling to the wrong side for far too long. It's hard to stay within the safety zone because it feels unfair. But You love me enough to keep reminding me that what You want is for my good. You know I can't live for You in my own strength. Teach me how to fully rely on You for everything, especially in the areas I am weakest, knowing that by doing that, all the glory and honor will go to You for the watching world to see. Amen.

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