In some recent conversations some folks have said to me that they felt like there were some events and perspectives happening around them that were causing them to believe their freedom in Christ was being hindered. They were not sure if they were lacking confidence in their relationship with God or fearing what people thought of them.
It often seems that we are handicapped from ordering our lives in ways that open us to greater intimacy with God and others. We can feel powerless in the face of the expectations of our families, workplaces, and churches. We despair to address the fears in ourselves as we crave acceptance, perfection, success, and conflict free lives that never disappointing anyone.
Is there a place in our hearts that feels like it is in bondage seeking to be free?
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1). It is a call to be free from the bondage of sin, and to freedom of access to the presence of God, or spiritual emancipation. Spiritual freedom is not freedom to do anything that pleases us. It is freedom from everything that is not God. It is a freedom within ourselves. “Ultimate freedom requires an acceptance of oneself as historically coming from God, going to God, and being with God. It includes a sense of well-being, self-identity, and basic peace,” (John English, Spiritual Freedom).
We need to find our spiritual freedom. “…Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom,” (2 Corinthians 3:17). When we hear those words emotions fill our hearts. We often don’t realize that it is a strategy of the enemy to use our gifts and the good things around us against us. Our gifts and strengths can undermine the greater good God is working to bring into our lives. This can reveal the deep desires in our hearts that have turned into idolatry. It could bring to light our caring more about what other people think or the fear of not meeting someone’s expectations of us.
True spiritual freedom comes when we determine what God is calling us to rather than our attachment to what we think other people want. When our attachments turn us inward on ourselves becoming selfish or inordinately other-centered it enslaves us and causes us to lose site of our freedom in Christ.
“But the purpose of our life is to bring all our strivings and desires into the sanctuary of the inner self and place them all under the command of an inner and God-inspired consciousness,” (Thomas Merton, “The Inner Experience: Christian Contemplation,”)
We need to ask ourselves if the way we are living corresponds to the deep desires of our hearts before God. Are we saying no to the things we need to say no to in order to put the things God wants first?
What changes do we need to make to live the lives God has for us?
Take time to get quiet before God and be honest with Him about the condition of your life. It may take a while to find the inner quiet that enables you to be honest. Wait for the chaos to settle. Get some time of solitude, silence and rest before God, wait for Him to give you guidance. Ask Him to show you what you need to let go of so you can live in the way He calls you to live. Then you will be ready to enter life in a healthier way.