Thursday, March 5, 2015

Freedom in Christ

I used to drive my kids around to their after school activities and listen to political talk radio. Although I still attempt to stay politically informed, I found these radio shows caused me to become frustrated and angry; the negativity began to cloud my perspective about life. I then started to listen to audio books. Presently, I'm almost finished with Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher-Stowe. Uncle Tom, a slave, is repeatedly promised his freedom. His strong faith gets him through many a trial, and his hope is anchored in Christ. In a sense, Uncle Tom symbolizes Christ. As the story comes to a close, Tom gives up his life so that other slaves can escape to freedom. Like Christ, Tom is obedient to his master, even unto death: "And being found in appearance as a man, he [Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8) Tom dies at the hands of a brutal slave beater who kills Tom because of His faith in Jesus and obedience to Him. As Tom is dying, he remarks that he dies with joy in the knowledge that he will be united in death with his Savior. Tom understands that, "the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). 

Just as Christ died for Tom, He died for each and every one of us. Yet, we get so caught up in our daily frustrations, such as a sense that we have no power to change political corruption, or that our life is unfair, or that it is just plain not easy to deal with day to day dilemmas. Paul reminds us that, although we encounter hardship on earth "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

How do we not remain burdened by fear, anxiety, stress and sin? Christ wants us to enjoy freedom. Our freedom does not depend on the daily decisions we make about whether we should stay at a job we aren't enjoying or which school we send our children to, or which neighborhood we hope to live in, etc. Our freedom depends on fully surrendering our life to Christ and, like Tom, living a life of obedience to Him: "whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:5-6). Yet, even when we try to be obedient, we fail. Fortunately, it is not our goodness that saves us but our faith in Christ. He gives us freedom from our failures. He gives us everlasting hope. "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). God is merciful. He forgives us and removes the burden of sin we carry with us. Christ died, and rose, and sent us His Spirit to set us free. If we trust in Him and give our burdens to Him, He will lead us in freedom and guide us to obedience in Him.

Dear God, You are a gracious God. Even when I become burdened by day-to-day complications, You are with me extending Your hand of freedom from these burdens. Help me to take Your hand and submit my life to Your Lordship so that I can be free indeed in You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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