This Freedom thing is tricky. When I first started walking with the Lord in earnest, I was in my early twenties. I remember walking out of church that afternoon thinking “I am never going to sin again.”
I bought a New American Bible and started reading. I was about two chapters through the New Testament when it dawned on me. This “no-more-sinning” plan was going to take a lot more change than I figured on. It was definitely going to be a long-term process.
The years since have been a constant evolution. Paul said that in Christ we become a New Creation–that our old self dies and we are made new. But walking in newness of life for me has been a lot like my life “in the natural.” What began with a re-dedication progressed slowly, in increments–baby steps, crawling, walking, sometimes running, sometimes stalled, misdirected, lost, confused, then suddenly overcoming a stronghold, only to confront another one–on and on–like a farmer, constantly plowing, tilling, sweating, laboring, sleeping, eating, praying, and celebrating.
My Lord’s been with me the entire time. I know that because the signs of His power, presence and love are everywhere–in the quiet calls to come talk with Him, in the deliverance and healing I haven’t asked for but come anyway as His gift, in His continual forgiveness of my weakness, in the strength He gives me to recognize and let go of my own sins, in the joy of seeing people healed and delivered, in the new family He has given me, to comfort, encourage, and celebrate with, even when I didn’t ask Him directly, and in the glory of His creation, blooming and wandering across my mountain. My God is always with me, teaching me to walk in Freedom and Love.
However, He also says “Go and sin no more.” Freedom is not just deliverance and healing for each of us, personally. It also requires us to find new, redemptive relationships with all our other brothers and sisters on the planet. We are called to actively love each other, armed with new, freer ways of relating, bonding, talking, sharing, and being Kingdom Carriers together.
That’s the side of Freedom in Him that has taken me the longest time to understand. Or maybe that side of freedom only comes with maturity? I’m not sure. I see lots of Christian folks who are not much freer than their old selves or even all that loving–even after decades of being freed. Others, younger and older, are awesome examples of actively Free, loving Christians. They inspire me!
I believe Kingdom Freedom extends love that blesses unconditionally–free of prejudice, anger, competition, condescension, power plays, dominance, the need to control or manipulate, self interest, or judgment. If faith in Jesus’ redemption gives us freedom from death, disease, and sin, then that new freedom also requires us to love each other generously–without perpetuating the same ole sinful, hateful, contemptible habits we’ve always used, inherited from our own sinful nature. We have a new nature now–so let’s put the old one down! 1 Corinthians 13 says it all.
Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)