As usual, Steven Curtis Chapman said it best in once of his songs:
So mirror, mirror look again. You’ve seen the fool that I have been, but did you see the grace that covers me?
Not to do anything I please. In fact, grace is the only thing that makes me what I ‘m NOT naturally.
It’s supernatural power brings life out of the grave. It gives sight to the blind man, and it will not let me stay… Only natural, only natural.
I know that on my own I’m only human, naturally. But I’ve got the Spirit of the living God alive in me, giving me power so I don’t have to be… Only natural, only natural.
I have been thinking about freedom in Christ lately. What does the Bible teach about being free? What are we free from? What are we free to? I like freedom. I think we all even CRAVE freedom. There’s something inside everyone that wishes to live in freedom. As a nation, we recently celebrated our freedoms. I am blessed to live in a “free” nation … where I have the freedom to work, play, worship or ignore, buy or sell, listen, speak … I could go on and on. I realize that some people are beginning to fear we will lose some of the freedoms we have enjoyed for many years, and that as a nation we have even fought to have. I don’t know what will happen in the future to our freedoms in America. Maybe we’ve been so used to freedom that we are now spoiled. Casual. Lazy. Entitled. Full of pride. Selfish. Greedy. We’ve all heard people say that freedom isn’t free. I agree. But I think the American Church has become soft. We’ve used the freedoms we enjoy on ourselves and we have everything, but we aren’t happy.There’s a monologue that has been passed around the internet that has the theme “everything’s amazing but nobody’s happy.” It’s hilarious and sad all at the same time. Sometimes we lose sight of the cost of our freedoms: selflessness by someone.
Back to personal freedom. Spiritual freedom. The kind offered in the Bible from God, through faith by grace. The supernatural kind. A totally different kind of freedom than we typically think of. Slaves become free of masters so they don’t have to obey them anymore. Prisoners are set free from prison, and are no longer subject to prison bars or guards. Pets are taken off their leashes to run and roam freely. Spiritual freedom is pictured in all these scenarios, but there is an important distinction. We are free FROM, but we are also free TO. We are free from ourselves – the natural us. We are free to be what we are NOT …. naturally. I’ve looked at all the verses I could find on freedom in the New Testament. I discovered that as followers of Christ, in our new lives we are free in several aspects. Free from the Law. Free from sin and death. Free from fear or worry. Free from the love of money. Free from accusations of Satan. Free from discrimination (male/female, Jew/Greek, etc). There are others, but these are the freedoms most mentioned.
So, I’ve been meditating on what this kind of freedom looks like in my life. Not my natural life, that one before Christ. But my supernatural life. The one that I live in Christ, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. For one thing, I’ve realized how little I still really daily walk in the freedom I’ve been given and have available to me. What I mean is, that I’m still in bondage to many things because I’m not living IN CHRIST. If I was, I would be living by faith more often. I have to admit that I still live way too often by feelings. My natural feelings then cause anger, resentment, excuses, laziness, pride, selfishness – all of which are opposed to the supernatural characteristic of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness … etc. which brings me back to what we forget when it comes to freedom – someone, somewhere was selfless and that’s why I have freedom. My freedom is really only as good as my awareness of how I got here (a thankful heart is a free heart).
I’ve realized also, that for some time now I’ve been concentrating so much on the “freedoms from” that I’ve neglected the “freedoms to” …. I admittedly like the verses talking about freedom from the law. Who wants to be bound by laws, rules, regulations? Punishment and guilt hanging over our head? But Paul reminded me that this is in no way ever an excuse to be free to sin. He said in Galatians 2 and 3 that we aren’t free from the law in order to intentionally disobey it. That is foolish. What we are free from is the burden of the law of natural man, which we will never be able to completely obey or fulfill. Thankfully, while we were YET sinners (natural), Christ died for us to provide us a new freedom!! The freedom to obey… and live as Christ! Christ died a selfless and sacrificial death so I could experience and live in freedom! But not to take advantage of the grace offered me by misusing or misunderstanding it. I am obviously forgetting the cost of my freedom if I’ve concluded that in some way I earned what I have or I was owed it. What I should be is grateful!
I have come to believe that my freedom in Christ is actually summed up fairly simply, although it’s not easy to live out on a daily basis. Spiritual freedom is nothing more or less than authentic and selfless love of others. Paul sums up the New Covenant through Christ quite well in Galatians 5. Freedom isn’t free. It costs us something – L O V E. Supernaturally loving others. As long as I am doing everything that I do, as a wife, as a mom, as a daughter, as a friend out of a heart of genuine Christ-like love, I am free. I am free to dance. I am free to run. I am free to live for Christ. I am free.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I am free …. from being …. only natural.