John 8:34-36, Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 3:17
- Define freedom in your own words.
- What comes to mind when you think of being free?
- Does following Jesus sound like freedom to you? Why or why not?
It was never an explicit rule that I wasn’t allowed to sneak out of my house late at night (at least I don’t remember the rule being explicitly stated), but I can still feel that rebellious thrill of successfully sneaking out when I was a senior in high school.
Usually, we tend to associate freedom with being free from rules or authority. Imagine the freedom of walking into school without the burden of following strict rules. What would you do with that kind of freedom? Imagine walking into your house without having to listen to your parents at all. It sounds freeing, right?
Or maybe you’re more like I was and you don’t constantly feel the burden of strict rules, but you have tasted the freedom of taking that rebellious leap.
But is that true freedom?
And yet it seems to be what we crave the most, isn’t it?
We often believe freedom can only be found when we are completely in charge of ourselves; following every whim, passion, and desire without any kind of hinderance or guilt to accompany our actions.
But why don’t we get the freedom we chase when we try to live this way?
Imagine a school with no rules where everyone is free to do as he pleases without the worry of any consequences. If you wanted to physically harm someone, pick your punching bag. If you wanted to skip class, skip away. If you wanted to yell at a teacher, bring a megaphone. If you wanted to break dress code, wear anything in your closet.
It would be complete chaos. No one would truly be safe and most people would use their freedom at the expense of others’ freedom.
This is not true freedom. It is the freedom we want because we have a sinful nature that craves the opposite of what God designed us to crave. As we see in these verses today, true freedom is only found in Christ.
So why do people find Christianity so boring and restrictive? Why do so many teenagers want to break freedom from the “chains” of religion?
Usually because they’re doing just that—following a religion. They’ve grown up believing that Jesus provides a list of rules to follow; that following Jesus consists of sitting quietly in church, following private school rules, dressing modestly, being nice to others, and following a list of right and wrong.
I’d want freedom from that life, too. It’s sustainable when you’re a kid, but eventually when you hit the teen years you crave more freedom, responsibility, depth, and reality and this fake life just won’t cut it for you anymore.
Jesus gives us the freedom we were created for and what we truly and deeply desire. Because Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not, we are free from the need to be perfect on our own. Because Jesus died in our place, we are free from the guilt and shame of our mistakes. And because Jesus rose to life, we are free to enter into a relationship with him and step into who we were created to be.
Sure, Jesus teaches us how to live, but not in the way that you may think or have learned your whole life. He doesn’t set out a list of rules that we need to follow in order that we may be good enough in his eyes. In fact, when Jesus came to live here on earth, he made many of the religious rule-followers angry and confused because he wasn’t concerned with following their fabricated set of laws and religion. Jesus represented true freedom in the way he lived by being gracious, merciful, generous, kind, sacrificial, and loving to all people. But most of all he represented true freedom because he fully believed he was loved by God and then lived every second of his days walking in that assurance of love.
The true freedom we crave is to be fully known and loved—even when (especially when)—we mess up and fall short.
This is the freedom that Jesus gives us because of his love for us. And it’s this Easter season that can point us not to a lackluster story about a man on a cross, but the Son of God making himself nothing for us so that we may live free forever.
You are free!
Free to stumble, fail, and fall short. Free to step into who God made you to be. And free to be loved without the expectation of being perfect.
But it’s only when we give ourselves fully to Jesus and allow him to be Lord of our lives do we get to live in that freedom. It’s only when we can trust that Jesus meant it when he said that he brings freedom that we will find the freedom we’ve been truly craving.
- Are you experiencing this kind of freedom in following Jesus? What is holding you back? Process that in your time with God this week.
- Take time to memorize one of the verses you read today as a reminder that Jesus brings true freedom
- Start you prayers this week by reminding yourself of the Gospel—that Jesus lived a perfect life for you, died in your place, and defeated sin and death so that you could go free. Begin every prayer thanking him for this and reminding yourself of this truth that sets you free.
- Keep a list this week of every time you felt freedom. Then take time to process with God whether it was true freedom or false freedom.