Faith for Freedom
This last calendar year has brought some of the most difficult times I have ever experienced. Everything from moving across the world to being frustrated with the thing I'm most passionate about in my life to making huge life decisions with finances and with my career. Some of these struggles and decisions I will remember for the rest of my life. Some I will not remember one year from now. Still, each of them seems be a battle that I fight day in and day out, a weight that I cannot shake loose. Frustration, confusion, helplessness, are all feelings that humans will experience during their lives. In fact, Jesus went through his own version of each of these as well. 12 men following you around daily, letting you down, not understanding what is right in front of them. How frustrating. Jesus sweated (yes, sweated) blood. What is more confusing than going through unbelievable pain that leads to death, all at the hands of your father? The Bible talks a lot about the times in life that are shaky, fearful, l and enslaving by showing us how we can become free.
Dictionary.com defines freedom as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. That free feeling is something that is unmatched and can be described as pure bliss, allowing for reckless abandon in the direction of your heart. It is something that every human desires to feel and something that Jesus came to grant. Jesus died for us so that we could have and live a life of freedom. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us “if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed”, showing us that we are free. Later in the book of Corinthians, Paul says “the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. If you are looking for freedom, Jesus is the right guy to call.
But if you had asked me, during my deepest, toughest moments of frustration this past year, if Jesus was going to set me free, I would have told you I know. I would have gotten that right on a quiz. But I now realize that Jesus freeing me from my sins is only part of the story. What if Jesus came to set me free from anything that would enslave me here on Earth: personal struggles that weight me down, opinions of others, fears of the future, insecurities, uncertainties in life, comparisons, the unknown, and even money?
In the book of Galatians, Paul, inspired by God, describes people who are struggling with a burden in most of their lives being circumcised. If you wanted to be with Jesus and part of God’s love and grace, circumcision was considered a necessity in their culture. This became a weight, a burden and enslaved many people of this time. In chapter five of Galatians, Paul responds to this burden, telling us that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” We must “stand firm, then, and…not let (ourselves) be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Continuing in verse 6, Paul reminds us that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:1 & 6). Here lies clear proof that God wants us to be free from everything. He does not want anything to enslave or engulf us in this life. He has freed us. And knowing that we need help, as often I do, He sent us Jesus.
I am reminded Jesus is greater than anything and everything. I am called to receive Jesus and to let him lift the weight and break the chains of the things that hold me down. Jesus wants me to be concerned with faith expressing itself through love. Sorry, burdens – I have no time for you. I pray and have faith that Jesus will lift my burdens each day and that my focus and belief in Him will bring the peace I need.
Carter Smith, Storyteller