Our Own Prisons

So here’s a bold statement…

When you are living in freedom, you are irresistibly compelled to share with others that which made your freedom possible.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Now consider the antithesis to that statement in reverse. If you are not compelled to share with others that which made your freedom possible, are you truly free? Have you experienced freedom? Or is it possible that you are acknowledging freedom without actually experiencing it?

Want to know why many Christians view “evangelism” as an obligatory mandate, difficult task, or offensive inconvenience? Because many Christians haven’t honestly experienced the freedom Christ offers.

Ouch…

Don’t get me wrong… this is something I have wrestled and still do wrestle with in my own experience. I have lived under that which I refer to above. I know what that reluctance feels like. I empathize with the gravitational draw to forsake my responsibilities because I viewed those privileges as just that… responsibilities. In reality, I was still a slave to my own brokenness. I was not free, so the things of Christ were not considered attributes of freedom.

How do I proclaim the goodness of God, when I refuse to see His goodness in my personal trials?

How do I convince others that Christ offers forgiveness, when my own faults remain relevant and within my tight grasp?

How do I trust a Holy God for salvation and freedom, when I don’t even trust the gifts he has bestowed upon my own life?

THOSE are the struggles Christ came to abolish.


We have become experts at operating from places of bondage and circumstantial imprisonment. So good, in fact, that many are blind to this reality, refuse to acknowledge it, or see no other way of living.

And how easy is it to call this sort of thing out when we see it in others?! We’ll comment on the perpetual cycle of poverty. We are at a loss when loved ones leave a destructive relationship, only to immediately enter another. The list goes on… but rarely do we apply the microscope to ourselves, and allow it to reveal the unseen from the naked eye bondage that is blamed on any number of external influences.

This is relevant for non-Christians, for sure. BUT… why is it that so many Christians gloss over this truth? Do we really believe the letters written to the early Church were directed at the non-believers who just happened to attend a gathering?

Solomon called this behavior out in the Proverbs, and he certainly didn’t mince words.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.

Proverbs 26:11

Paul uses much more “seemingly” Christian language in Romans.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:5-7

The point remains clear – if you are within Christ, you are no longer slaves to your sin. No. Longer. Slaves. To. Sin. Do I need to call out what Paul’s language was inferring for those not in Christ? Freedom REQUIRES removal of the shackles of sin. They cannot exist together. Freedom also REQUIRES acceptance of Christ.  They cannot exist apart.  Where once there was a need for our old selves to be bound, freedom is the shedding of that need!

You don’t need to go back! In fact… for you to be free, you CANNOT GO BACK!

The forgiveness and eternal reality Christ offers is so revolutionary, so counter-cultural, so counter-intuitive, and such a massive shock to our ways of living, that even simply accepting it as true can seem like scaling a mountain. We just don’t believe it. So in response, we mentally give acknowledgement to it, but refuse to take steps in actually walking it out… because along with the simplicity of the gift comes a host of uncomfortable and heart-wrenching propositions to those who still live in shackles. Things like submission, service, forgiveness of ourselves and others, and selfless love.

So the second we experience a bit of freedom… we try to go back…

Could it be that Christ offers freedom in the midst of circumstances? Meaning that we are so enthralled with the eternal impacts of Christianity… we can freely walk out of our spiritual bondage; bondage that we had so convincingly believed was circumstantial or conditional to our lives/environment! And in so doing, we will be able to see the fickle nature of circumstances. They may very well be solidly in tact; however, their grip on our lives vanishes. Once a new way of living is established outside of this grip, there is no stopping the emphatic proclamation and profound joy of where a life in Christ takes us.

How could a Christian NOT share with non-Christians about a God who empathizes in our sorrows, yet bore the consequences, so we can stand before Him in righteousness as justified and redeemed?!

So… are you free? Truly… are you living a life entrenched in the promises of God?

If you aren’t, I would love to tell you how Christ has called me into His freedom. And I would love to share how He offers the same to you.

 

In Christ,

Josh

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