Learning to Live in Freedom
- In the 15th century, European settlers began taking the land of Native Americans here in the U.S. It was three centuries before Native Americans finally gained specific rights and freedoms in our country that gave them the freedom to fully function as native tribes.
- In the 18th century, slavery among African Americans peaked at four million. Four million people in our country were desperate to have their freedom.
- In 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in New York. Women were desperate for the freedom to vote.
- Today, there are 27 million people worldwide that are considered modern-day slaves and suffering unspeakable sexual abuse through human trafficking.
Freedom has always been a hot topic through the years – something that people have desperately sought out and fought for. Each of those groups was enslaved through no choice of their own, but the desire for freedom was born into each and every one of them.
Unfortunately, these heartbreaking statistics are the facts.
Do you know what is even sadder? There are millions within the Body of Christ living enslaved in an entirely different way. If we are going to find true freedom in Christ…..we must first learn the things that we are bound to:
- Our job. – Our successes and failures that we allow to define us.
- Our marital status.
- Our church.
- Our friendships.
- A new business or ministry opportunity.
- Our perception of our physical beauty.
This list can go on and on. We are constantly looking at and for other “things” in our lives; they bind us, consume us, and keep us from living in complete freedom. We will wrap it in Christianese and pretend not to be enslaved to it, but often --- all too often -- we are not walking in freedom with Jesus Christ.
We begin to put our hope in things that will never fulfill us. We tie our identity into what we do. We live enslaved to those things and allow them to define us. Parenthood. Position at your church. Your job. Relationships. Bank account size. Those things are a part of your life. They are not your life.
Fear becomes the thing we hold on to too tightly – that thing we will not trust God with – our children, our marriage, our control. Marriages, unfortunately, sometimes fail. Children grow up and leave home. Churches sometimes fall apart. Beauty fades. But one thing remains….one thing. Living our lives in complete freedom through Jesus Christ.
Until we learn to live in complete freedom in Christ Jesus, finding our value in Him alone, we will continue to live, enslaved, bound, and exhausting lives.
The first step in embracing Christ’s freedom is to accept Him for who He is as your savior. For many of you, reading, have already accepted Jesus Christ as your savior. If you have not, I pray, right now, wherever you are, that you would truly turn your heart over to Jesus. Accept Him. Understand your need for Him as a sinner and the eternal cost of separation from Him for your sins. Then ask Him into your heart. This is one decision you will never regret. What about all of you reading who have accepted Christ, yet you still struggle to find freedom? In order for you to find freedom, you must first understand what or who is keeping you from living free:
Our mouth – Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life;” Speak life. Some of us would rather complain about how much harder our lives are than the sister sitting next to us. Some of us would rather ask God why we have to go through the challenges we are walking through. We would rather camp out in Verbal Suicide than begin speaking to our mountain and demand it move. Too often, we get comfortable in bondage. We do not necessarily like it there but know what to expect there. And so….we set up a tent and camp out there. Then we have the audacity to get mad with our sisters in Christ who are walking in joy….smiling, and praising God. We get mad and accuse them of being “fake.” What we fail to take into consideration is that maybe, just maybe, they are choosing to push through in spite of...they are speaking life to their mountains.
Our past – 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “Whoever belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; the new life has begun.”
We are not called to keep our heads faced backward. Whatever is in our pasts, it was washed away when we became accepted Christ as our Savior. We walk with our heads faced forward, free from our past. Look at Hebrews 11. I love this book in the Bible – our big Chapter on Faith – the heroes of our faith.
Abraham was a liar. Noah was a drunk. David was a murderer and adulterer. Moses was a murderer with a speech impediment. Rahab was a prostitute. The heroes of our faith accomplished great things with their faith in God. However, God chose to tell us the story behind the story – what happened in their pasts. Why? I am convinced it is so that we can know that our past does not count us out!
We can either live bound by our past mistakes and failures or live free by taking our place in the Kingdom! We can choose to walk as grace-filled, hopeful, forgiven, courageous, strong warriors for the King each day.
Our Choice – If you do not believe me? Take a look at Exodus 13:17-18 “When Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though it was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “if the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”
God knew that although the Israelites were desperate for, and had waited a long time to receive, freedom from slavery, they would turn and go back to what He had just set them free from if they ran into difficulties.
How many times have we run back to bondage that Christ has paid for us to be free from?
When Christ was on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” He did not say, “it MAY be finished.” Or, “it is GOING to be finished.” Or, “SOME OF IT is finished.” He said, “It is finished.” Exactly what is finished? The price for our salvation was bought and paid for that day. What did Christ say just a few chapters before that? I came so that you may have an abundant life. Christ came so that you may be free.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13, “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively."
There are people in your lives, DESPERATE, to see Christ in you. They are hopeful that you will live free. If you fail to live free, what do you have that the world would want? Every obstacle cannot cause us to stumble, make us question our faith and who we are in Christ. An entire world is watching, and we are their only hope.
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.
The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. Maggio is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.