ENJOYING FREEDOM IN CHRISTIAN LIFE
Dr. Saju Joseph
Freedom of life is one of the unique features of Christian life. In fact freedom is dearer than life. Ignoring this truth, many Christians continue to lead a life of bondage. For many Christians life is a liability.
Jesus Christ never forced anyone to follow Him. He was frank enough to tell His disciples about the dangers that awaited them on the way. But persuaded by a divine inspiration many people decided to follow Him. Jesus was not a master who demanded the strict adherence to a handful of laws by His disciples. Instead, He taught the people the love of God. We can thus summarize the main purpose of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Firstly, it was to reveal God to man. Secondly, it was to teach man how to serve God. Jesus through His teachings and work revealed God to man. By obeying His Father in everything He set us a model for serving God. Jesus obeyed and served God in full freedom.
Obeying the Law (Law of Moses) and obeying love (Love of God) are two different things. In the Old Testament God demanded that man obey the Law. Man’s sinful condition was naturally against obedience to God’s Holy laws. Therefore Apostle Paul wrote: “For what the law was powerless to do that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering” .(Rom.8:3). But in New Testament God demands man’s obedience to love. (John 3:16)
FREEDOM AND LOVE
If we love people with the expectation of any reward or return from them, that is not love in freedom, but a love in bondage. There are so many people who become very sorrowful and disappointed because they have loved someone.
I know a person who leads a very unhappy and bitter life, because he once helped a boy in his neighbourhood gain a good education and later to find a good job. When this poor family became rich they were not grateful towards the person who helped them. This rich man didn’t want any gift in return but all he wanted to see some gratitude from the boy and his family. Not getting the response he expected, he lost his happiness. This is a good example for love in bondage.
Only unconditional love is the love in freedom. Our love towards God as well as man should be such. In Romans 8:35 Paul speaks about the love in freedom. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword”. He continues in verse 38: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Freedom and Holiness
Leading a holy life is a very primary requirement in a Christian’s life. One of the unique features of Christianity is also its emphasis on the personal holiness of each member in the church. A member of the body of Christ should be holy both in his private life and public life. Bible gives us the code for holy life. Jesus said, “Be ye Holy as your Father in Heaven is Holy”.
Many Christians are struggling to lead a holy life. They are struggling to get freedom from the grip of some bad habits. God wants us not to become slaves to holiness, but masters of holiness. This is what Paul meant when he said: "In all these things we are more than conquerors".Slaves of holiness are always cowards. They are always fearful whether they will fall or not in certain areas of life. Fear will naturally lead us to fall. A mature Christian is not a slave of Holiness but a master of Holiness. Only masters of Holiness can enjoy freedom in Christian life.
FREEDOM AND WORK
Christianity is not passive but full of action. It is not a handful of theories, but full of practices in real life. Christians are not supposed to lead isolated passive lives, away from the society in a cave or on a mountain top. Instead they should be right in the centre of an active social life. In a Christian’s life there are not many departments, like church department, world department, spiritual department or secular department. A Christian has not many faces. He has only one face.
If all the work that we do either in church or outside is done due to somebody else’s compulsion or to please some human being, it is a work in bondage. Every activity that we do as a church member, a Bible student, a minister in a church or in any institution, ought to be done as unto the Lord. If our prayer and other spiritual activities are controlled by a remote system with a set time-table and regulations then it becomes a work in bondage. But if we do our work faithfully and sincerely, even if there is no warning bell or a supervisor, then it is a work in freedom. Let us enjoy freedom in its right sense even at our workplaces.
FREEDOM AND WORSHIP
The highest activity of a human being towards God is worship. The value of worship increases when we worship the Lord in freedom. Today people worship the Lord only because there is a Sunday Service. Even in Sunday services some Christians worship only because there is a ‘worship’ time during the service. Worship should come forth freely from our innermost being. It should be spontaneous without any outside force. Only such worship is worship in freedom. With arms and legs in chains and stocks, a true worshipper can still worship the Lord in absolute freedom. Paul’s worship in the Philippine prison is one good example.
To some worship is a mere formality. Others worship as a means to escape from the cares of this world. Again some others worship only for an ephemeral comfort. But all these types of worship are worship in bondage.
Let us worship the Lord, because he is our Creator, Saviour and one who provides for us. Let us worship the Lord, because he is worthy of our worship. Let us worship the Lord without any expectation of material benefits in life. If so, we worship in total freedom.
May God help us to enjoy freedom in every aspect of our Christian life.