I spoke in my last post about "free thinkers" who believe that following Chrisitanity was a sign of being a sheep, of being "not free." I used to believe that as well. That was before Jesus ran me to ground. Now, everything has changed.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have the freedom to have wonderful, deep and abiding peace. I have the freedom to have peace in the thick of adversity, peace in the midst of conflict, peace in the face of opposition, peace beneath the weight of every burden. I have the freedom to lie down and sleep in peace knowing that the Creator of the Universe provides for my safety.
Besides all that, I have freedom to experience joy. I have found that, no matter what the circumstance, no matter how filled with gloom the prospect, no matter how discouraging or disconcerting the difficulty - I can nevertheless tap that reservoir of joy which God has placed into every human heart that has come to Him through Christ. The assurance of His pardon, His power, His presence in every scene of life, has emptied my life of gloom and sadness and filled it with a high and holy gladness. Jesus came to earth to proclaim, in part, a religion of joy. Wherever He went, throughout His earthly life, He brought joy to the sorrowing, cheer to the downcast, and gladness to those who were sitting in the shadow of death. His earthly ministry restored joy to human hearts which had been languishing in the shackles of sin and sadness. He came to do that for me! Jesus says to His followers, "These things I have spoken to you that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full." Jesus has given me a joy that is so deep, so firm, so sure that the trials of life are but as the ripples on the surface of the sea.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from worry. I have freedom to be filled with passion for the most worthy cause on earth, that of furthering the kingdom of God. I have freedom from slavery to sin, freedom to obey my Creator, freedom to have patience in the face of frustration, freedom to know the will of God, and freedom from guilt.
Besides all that, I have freedom to become more spiritual than any seeker of worldly spirituality, for my soul, encased in this earthly shell is now the residence of God’s Holy Spirit. He uplifts my troubled soul. He is my unfailing comforter. He corrects me. He counsels me. He is my teacher who sanctifies me. I thank the Spirit of the Living God for the assurance He brings me on a daily basis. He brings me blessed and holy quietness. He revives me with life and with power. He cleanses and renews me. He bends me and remakes me. He gives me faith and I live an abundant life because of that faith. I am so very thankful for the Holy Spirit, for He has kindled a flame of sacred love in this once cold, cold heart of mine.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to know that God is pleased with me, freedom to sacrifice for others without feeling used, freedom to have a clear conscience, freedom to actually become a good person in the eyes of God, freedom from bitterness, freedom to be gentle toward those who are hostile toward me. I have freedom to submit to others from a position of inner strength and confidence, and I have the freedom to not only experience grace from God, but the freedom to extend that grace to others.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to love others, freedom to take a one-down position and not lose one iota of value or worth, freedom from anxiety, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from the fear of other people, freedom from the fear of anything that life wants to bring my way. I have the freedom to serve Jesus, freedom to be kind toward those who are not kind toward me, and freedom to do the right thing even when I’m strongly tempted to do the wrong thing.
Besides all that, I have freedom to have an inexhaustible Source of spiritual and moral power. By simply trusting Jesus, He has promised me pardon for my sin, peace for my soul, strength in the hour of trouble, courage in the face of difficulty, power in the moment of temptation - and I receive this pardon, peace, and power simply by trusting that He will keep His promise.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from resentments, freedom to look forward to eternity, freedom to become a man of integrity, freedom from self-centeredness, and freedom to be thankful, wonderfully, wonderfully thankful. I have the freedom to admit that everything that I have is from God and from Him alone, freedom from the need to be rich, freedom to be wronged without it becoming a big deal and I have found the freedom to learn and to grow into Christ-likeness in every single situation.
Besides all that, I have the freedom to hope. The New Testament is filled with messages of hope. I have "the hope of the gospel," "the hope of the promise," "the hope of His calling," "the hope which is laid up for me in heaven," "our hope of glory," "hope in our Lord Jesus Christ," "that blessed hope," "the hope of eternal life," "the full assurance of hope," "the hope we have as an anchor," "a lively hope" and on and on it goes. This is not some pious wish, but a hope in the sense of a sure confidence. The Christian’s hope, since it is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ is a hope of which I am not ashamed, a hope that is as sure as Jesus Christ Himself is sure. The future holds for me more good that I cold ever hope for.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from my past, freedom from anger, freedom from seeking self-worth in possessions, freedom from the need for popularity, and freedom to love and to be loved without reservation or self-protection.
Besides all that, I have freedom to experience new mercies from God every single day. They are countless, constant, and sure. They greet me in the morning and gladden my heart at noon. They follow me into the shades of night. Because of God’s mercies, there is never a sorrow that I experience that Jesus does not come into with His presence, power and comfort. Neither is there a burden that He doesn’t bear. Jesus’ mercies shall follow me all the days of my life; they endure forever and ever.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to admit that I need to change, freedom to revel in the new song of righteousness, freedom from the need for power, freedom from spiritual darkness, freedom to first identify and then to have healthy, kind, generous, and loving friends. I have freedom from shame, freedom from having to be ‘right,’ and the freedom to trade the lessor and unstable god of self-esteem, for the glorious and solid provision of Christ-esteem.
Besides all that, I have genuine happiness. Not happiness as the world understands it, based on one pleasure inducing event after another. No, I have the real deal, because there is only one place where we find real happiness, and that is down at the feet of the crucified Saviour, because only there can we be freed from our sins.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to know the difference between life-giving and life-destroying behaviours, freedom from insecurity, freedom to not feel constrained by the rules of our society, freedom to have a life of meaning and context and purpose, freedom to know the difference between right and wrong, freedom to rejoice in being alive, freedom from the trap of bigotry, freedom from greed, freedom from envy and freedom to come to God with boldness and confidence because I’m shielded by His mercy and grace.
Besides all that, I have been given the freedom to know, to really know the person of Truth. He has revealed to me truth about God, truth about man, truth about life, truth about death, truth about myself, truth about heaven and the truth about hell.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to know what it’s like to have enough no matter the circumstance, freedom to find pure rest for my soul, freedom to know with certainty that because of my faith, every morning I can put on the breast-plate of God’s approval and to know that God will never leave me or give up on me.
Besides all that, I have freedom to have God either lighten my burden to match my strength, or increase my strength to match the burden. And without fail I have received His strength: strength to stand in the midst of the storm, strength to outlast the bombardment of pain, strength to bear the burden of the cross, strength to resist the onslaught of sin - or having fallen, to tread the path of the prodigal back to the Father’s house and to be assured of full and free forgiveness. These victories are by no means mine. Left to myself, to my own puny powers of resistance or endurance, I will fall short every single time. "Not that I am sufficient in myself, but my sufficiency is of God."
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from making huge life-decision mistakes, freedom to have a good marriage, freedom from confusion and second guessing, freedom from pride, freedom to give justice, but not to seek it, and I have the freedom to understand that all the good that happens in my life is like a stream that is leading me directly back to the Source.
Besides all that, I have freedom to be a brand new creation. His power has displaced hate with love, sorrow with joy, relational war with peace. His power took this man who was morally rotten and transformed me into a trophy of grace. Halleluiah - God be praised!
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from condemnation, freedom to have mercy lavished upon me, freedom from fake and shallow friendships, freedom to NOT say, "Lord, come into my life and change my pain," but, "Lord, come into my pain and change me." I have freedom to suffer with and for Jesus, and freedom to forgive.
Besides all that, I have freedom from judgment. He has blotted out my wrongs. He has cleansed me from sin. He is only interested in my broken and contrite heart and today I can praise God because Calvary covers all my sins, past, present, and future. How amazing! How incredible! How wonderful!
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom from the need to achieve, freedom to look forward to tomorrow, freedom from God’s wrath, freedom from putting me first, freedom from the need for position, freedom from the feeling of alienation, freedom to be bathed in the soothing warmth of God’s enormous Love, freedom from dependence on false gods, freedom to have patience in the midst of suffering, and I have the freedom to become more than a conqueror.
Besides all that, I have the freedom to know Who to thank when I’m grateful, for every good and perfect gift is from God. He is the righteous One. I celebrate His glory. I acknowledge His sovereignty. I rejoice and sing the wonders of His grace. How great is my Lord and my Saviour!
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to inherit all of God’s riches, freedom to understand the Gospel message, freedom to know that I’m a disciple that Jesus loves. Great God of wonders, I proclaim your majesty! I exalt your deity! Your eyes are upon the righteous. Your ears are open to their cry. You are near to those whose hearts are breaking. You save those who have a contrite spirit. You are perfect in power, in love, and in purity. May You alone be exalted!
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have freedom to have total assurance in God’s promises for forgiveness, for strength and for eternity. Is faith in this God, as the world sees it, a crutch? Yes, and more than that. Jesus is my stretcher, my chariot, my sole support in each and every circumstance. After all, to what would we look to for help if not to that which is stronger than ourselves? Jesus has tested me and I now know that in every scene of life - in joy and sorrow, in success and failure, in health and in sickness, in moments of crisis when all lesser gods give way, I have trusted Jesus and have found that He is able to carry both me and my burden and bring me safely to the other side. With Paul and with believers of all ages I can say: "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until the Day when He returns." I and all other Christians have the Divine assurance of comfort in sorrow, strength in sickness, solace in bereavement, help in distress, and ultimate triumph in the midst of dire calamity. And this assurance is signed and sealed in the blood of the Son of God Himself. The world has known no higher guarantee.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have the freedom to do something valuable until my dying breath, freedom to not only accept, but to enjoy my weaknesses, and I have the freedom to give away my time, my money and my self.
Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have the freedom to counter my culture, and the freedom to find contentment in every single situation. This contentment comes from knowing beyond any doubt that, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" "My God will supply ALL my needs."
Finally, because of my relationship with Jesus, I have the freedom to say to life,
"Rain on, I will not drown, for I am standing on higher ground!"
None of these freedoms were mine prior to my healed relationship with Jesus. I was like a ship in the middle of the ocean with no navigational system. I could go any direction I chose, but I had no idea how to find a safe harbour for my soul. Do I experience all of these freedoms at all times with perfect regularity? No. But this I know. While I’m not who I should be. And I’m not who I’m going to be. Thanks to God alone, I’m not who I used to be.