- In the 15th century, European settlers began taking the land of Native Americans here in theU.S. It was 3 centuries before Native Americans finally gained specific rights & freedoms in our country that gave them freedom to fully function as native tribes.
- In the 18th century, slavery among African Americans peaked at 4 million. 4 million people in our country were desperate for 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 across the world who are considered modern-day slaves and suffering unspeakable sexual abuse through human trafficking.
You see, freedom through the years has always been a hot topic – something that people have desperately sought out & fought for. And each of those people groups were enslaved through no choice of their own.
And those are some sad statistics, huh?
Do you know what’s even sadder? That millions within the body of Christ are 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 & failures there begin to define us.
Our marital status.
A new business or ministry opportunity.
Our perception of our physical beauty.
And the list can go on and on. We are constantly looking at other "things" in our lives and the bind us, consume us, and keep us from living in complete freedom. We wrap it in Christianese and pretend not to be enslaved, but often --- too often -- we aren’t walking in freedom to 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 part of your life. They are not your life.
Fear becomes that thing we hold on too tightly to – that thing we won’t trust God with – our children, our marriage, our control. Marriages unfortunately fail. Children leave. Churches sometimes fall apart. Beauty fades. But one things remains….one thing.
Until we learn to live in complete freedom in Christ Jesus, finding our value in Him alone, we will continue to live, enslaved, bound, exhausting lives.
The first step in embracing Christ's freedom are to accept him as your savior. For many of you reading, you have already done that. If you haven't, I pray, right now, where 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. It's a decision you won't ever regret. But what about all of you reading who have accepted Christ, and yet, you still struggle to find freedom? In order for you to find freedom, you must first understand what keeps 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 thru this challenging thing we are walking thru. We’d rather camp out in Verbal Suicide than begin to speak to our mountain and demand that it move. Too often we’re comfortable in bondage. We don’t necessarily like it there, but at least we know what to expect. And so….we set up a tent and we camp out there. And then we get mad at our sisters in Christ who are walking in joy….smiling, praising. We get mad at them and accuse them of being “fake”. But we never consider that maybe, just maybe, they are choosing pushing 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 backwards. Whatever our pasts, it was washed away, when we became Christians. We walk with our heads faced fwd, 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 murdered and adulterer. Moses was a murderer. Rahab was a prostitute. The heroes of our faith accomplished great things with their faith in God, but God chose to tell us the story behind the story – what happened in their pasts. Why? I’m convinced its so that we can know that our past doesn’t count us out!
We can either live bound up by our past mistakes and failures or we can take our place in the Kingdom! We can choose to walk as a grace-filled, hopeful, forgiven, courageous, strong, warrior for the King each day.
Our Choice – Don’t believe me? 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 round about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”
God knew that the Israelites who had been desperate for their freedom from slavery for years….would go back to what he’d just set them free from, if they ran into difficult.
How many times have we ran back to bondage that Christ paid for us to be free from?
When Christ was on the cross, he said, “it is finished.” He didn’t say, it MAY be finished. Or it’s GOING to be finished. Or SOME OF IT is finished.” He said, it is finished. What’s finished? The price for our salvation was bought, and then paid for that day……. What did Christ say just a few chapters before that? I came so that you may have the abundant life. Christ came so 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 don’t live free, then what do you have that the world would want? Every obstacle cannot cause us to stumble, questioning our faith and who we are in Christ. An entire world is watching and we're their only hope.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.