Freedom is an interesting thing. I’ve been told my whole life that through Christ we have freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from death, freedom from the yoke of bondage. It’s wonderful to hear, yet for much of my life, I did not feel free. In fact, there were moments when the very thing meant to give me freedom felt more like bondage than I’d care to admit.
John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I have believed the teachings of Jesus to be true, but I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I have struggled to experience freedom is that I never fully understood the truth? That I had accepted lies and mixed them with the truth. Perhaps I never experienced true freedom because I never fully believed I was forgiven? I consistently put the burden of my salvation on my own shoulders, rather than accepting that Jesus fully paid it all.
I stumbled upon a quote this morning by Oswald Chambers that says, “The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much.” So why then did I continually feel as though it was a difficult thing? It is simple.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT) Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
It is all about what Jesus did! That is sincerely freeing.
Yet, I have seen many good “church people” pretend like they never had a past. I understand I am a “new creation,” and the past is gone, meaning it holds no bearing on my future. However, it is because of my past that the glorious grace of God is able to shine in my life. It is because of the grace I have received that I am able to extend grace to others. Often I felt so ashamed by my misdeeds because it seemed like no one else was afflicted by them. However, I believe that the power of the gospel is what Jesus did in spite of my misdeeds. He didn’t wait for me to obtain perfection, He simply offered me the free gift of salvation.
I would encourage all of us to stop trying to cover up our past. What are we trying to hide? When we accept Jesus our past is put to death. It holds no power of us. We are free from shame and condemnation! We don’t need to hide it.
Don’t avoid your past. Don’t avoid your pain. Don’t avoid your doubts. Embrace them, for they make you uniquely you. They give you a voice that is uniquely you.
I used to believe that Jesus wanted to make me into something else, remove my past. Overlook my mistakes. Make me forget my doubts. I thought healing meant I can ignore it. Now I recognize that God takes us as we are. He accepts us, takes us and makes us completely beautiful. “All things become new” does not mean they are replaced, but they become repurposed. Infused with fresh, spirit-breathed life.
Finding my identity in Christ doesn’t mean I disappear. It means in Christ my identity is clarified, healed and given purpose.
I spent so much time trying to be “new” that I at times forgot to be authentically me. I spent so much time trying to appear like a “normal” Christian that I at times stopped being a healthy Christian. My friends, be you! Allow God to work in the midst of who you are. Receive His freedom, healing, and restoration. Allow God to give you a fresh purpose.
All of us are called to genuinely and authentically love the world. We are called to extend to them the very same love that Jesus offered to us. The truth of the gospel. The simple truth of God’s love.
No strings attached.