Freedom

January 10, 2015

As many of you know, I spent four years in the U.S. Navy. Furthermore some of you like to remind me that I was on a ship for all of 10 minutes during my enlistment. My daughter Rebekah who is working for Disney Cruise Lines has now logged WAY more hours at sea than I did. Not only was my lack of exposure to sea-going vessels limited to ships, I was never on a submarine either. I saw many of them, all different sizes, but I never actually descended into the depths of the vessels, or the oceans. I think I’m okay with that. I’ll come back to this in a moment.

I want to turn your attention to “freedom” for a moment; in particular the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ. There are many verses that broach this topic. Below are just a few:

Galatians 2:4  This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Galatians 5:1  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Ephesians 3:12  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

1 Peter 2:16  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

It’s worth noting that our freedom “In Christ” is not license for what many think of as “freedom,” i.e., doing whatever we want whenever we want. That’s not freedom, that’s chaos. Imagine a world where every living soul decided to live in the sort of freedom I just described. A simple example might be driving on the interstates. What would it look like if there were no speed limits, no guidelines? (“But there are places where there are no speed limits.” True, but they tend to be in isolated areas so that folks are not endangered.) Some might say that it would not bother them as long as they were not expected to keep up with the crazies. Well, it might not bother them until the speed of others endangered their lives. Or what if everyone else decided to drive at 5 mph? All of a sudden your freedom to be safe, or to get somewhere on time is impeded. You see, freedom, true freedom comes with boundaries.

In the context of the faith, “freedom” is often accompanied by the phrase “in Christ.” In other words, we are not under that O.T. law any longer, but there are still limitations to our freedom. We, as Christians, can do whatever we want as long as it is within the boundaries of the person of Jesus Christ. Look again at the Ephesians passage above:

Ephesians 3:12  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Are we given the “freedom” to approach God anyway we want? No! We are called to approach God “in and through Jesus Christ.” Freedom as a Christian is not without bounds!

Galatians 5:13  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Whoops. You might be asking, “What does this have to do with submarines?” Good question. If I told you while you were 500 feet below the surface of the ocean in a steel cigar that you had the freedom to roam wherever you wanted to, does that mean “anywhere”? Of course not. It means within the confines of the sub! You could try to roam outside I suppose, but it would be met with instant death. Hmm, that sounds like a metaphor if I ever heard one.

For those of us who claim to be Christians, looking for license or freedom outside of Jesus is… well… spiritually fatal. But as long as you remain “in Christ,” you are free to roam at your heart’s content. It’s the same “freedom” given to Adam and Eve; “You are free to eat of any tree in this garden… well except for ‘that’ one.” Again freedom, but within bounds. That’s the only way to actually possess it! Anything else is anarchy and chaos.

One last comment. You may ask, “What does it mean then to be ‘in Christ’”? On one hand, I want to say that if you have to ask that question it might be very difficult for me to explain. But here is my real answer. Find a Bible. Find the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1. Begin reading and stop when you finish the Gospel of John, chapter 21. (It will most likely take more than one sitting.) Read as if you have never heard of this Jesus person before. Listen for the first time to what he says about following him, caring for the poor, submitting to God. If you do that and you still want to know what it means to be “in Christ,” then come and ask me.

Blessings.

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