Saturday, October 6, 2012

True Freedom

Are you like me? Do you remember certain lines from movies that are your favorites? You know, movie lines inspire you to go beyond yourself, or at least to rent the movie again? One of my favorite “big screen” lines of all time is from the movie Braveheart. Like most big time one-liners, the surrounding story line and emotional build-up at that certain point in the movie is really what thrusts the adage into the “movie-line hall of fame.” So, for those who may have missed this top 10 movie, allow me to recreate the scene.

Mel Gibson plays Scottish radical William Wallace. He has stomached the life choking hold that England has over the feudal state of Scotland for as long as he can. Therefore, he spends most of the movie taking painful potshots at Edward Longshanks, king of England, and trying to rally the Scottish clans to join their numbers and fight for there liberation. After much self struggle and loss, Wallace finally gathers the willing freedom fighters to the climactic battle on the classic battlefield. On one side, the vast numbers and modern war technology of Longshank’s iron clad army. On the other side of the battlefield, the meager, undersized Scots, wearing home made battle gear, holding home grown weapons. The only thing they have on their side is the fire in their eyes, and the trust they have placed in their steadfast, dogged leader (I’m getting excited again, aren’t you?). So, there they are, out numbered, and out classed, still, determined and resolute.

NOW, here’s the best part!

At this point, William Wallace knows he has to do something that will catapult his men into an unbridled frenzy. He has to light the fuse. So riding upon his battle painted war horse, he begins galloping up and down the front line shouting out the words the men need to hear. (I wish I could type with a Scottish dialect!!) Wallace begins shouting at the top of his lungs with passionate fury. He begins reminding his men what the English have done, and what it will mean if they are allowed to continue to choke the life out of their families. He reminds them of their past. He reminds them of their future. Then at the very crescendo of the speech he raises up on his steed and shouts with all this might,


(please excuse me while I go pretend sword fight the invisible English in my living room)

Whew! Okay I’m back. Breathing a little heavy. Just a little bit sweaty, but at least I know my family is safe, again, from Longshank’s and his English bad guys. Yeah, you’re laughing now, but if you were at home by yourself you would have done the same thing, some of you probably did. I can’t help it if I become over inspired sometimes.

You know, there’s just something compelling about the fight for freedom that emboldens the heart of man. I think there is a created desire with in each of us to search for liberty, to know the peace that comes with obtaining the right to live, and the internal satisfaction when we know we are living right. This implanted, created desire is what propels us to search out what is missing in our lives, our freedom from this world. We, the redeemed, know that the freedom we search for can never be given or taken from the hand of another man. It is not man-made, it is divine.

In any case, we understand freedom don’t we? We live in this American, affluent society, and in the “land of the free” it is ingrained in us from birth to value our freedom. If you stop to think about it, the freedom we share as Americans leads us to believe that we have certain untouchable rights. Yet we spend much of our time, on several levels of society, protecting and fighting for our rights. American rights, civil rights, citizenship rights, religious rights, the right to free speech, the right to bare arms…and so on and so on and so on. Well here is my question; if we are truly free in America, then why are we in a constant battle to maintain rights and privileges? Shouldn’t our “freedom” offer us these things without a struggle, without resistance? If we are truly free, wouldn’t these rights, privileges, and liberties, once they are gained, be an automatic result of the freedom we enjoy? If we are free, why is our freedom placed in constant question? Is a conditional freedom really true freedom?

One unspoken American philosophy might be: With American freedom there is no slavery. But I think we are a slave to protecting our freedom and therefore we have a pseudo-freedom (Again, my opinion).

I know the only true freedom is a gift from the Almighty. It is gained only through the justification of Calvary. Still, there are even Christians who are not free at all. They are as bound by Satan and the world as they ever were before they were saved. I believe this is because we view our freedom in Christ the same way we are taught to view freedom as Americans. We apply the “with American freedom there is no slavery” philosophy to our Christian walk. Admittedly, it is easy to do. We are some what institutionalized by our man made ideal of freedom. The problem is that in that we are completely missing the boat and finding ourselves in chains. Yes, even though we are saved.

In my opinion, like most things where God is concerned, man’s viewpoint takes a completely opposite position.

We say: with freedom there is no slavery!

God says: you have to become a slave before you can be free!

Kinda confusing, I know. Let me try to explain.

To gain God’s freedom (the only real freedom) in our everyday lives, we must forfeit our rights for the sake of others, for the sake of the Kingdom. We must completely deny ourselves to find ourselves completely free. Paul spoke time and again about being a slave to the gospel, being a servant, and rejoicing over his chains.

Jesus is ultimately our example, right? I love Philippians chapter 2, and what does verse 6 say: He was in the form of God, yet He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, and taking the very nature of a servant, He humbled himself.

Isn’t that just amazing? He, the God-man, wouldn’t claim His own deity! He had it, He had every right to us it, but He never took advantage of its privileges. He was God, yet He would not enjoy the benefits of being God. What did He do instead? He gave up His rights for the sake of the Kingdom for your sake and for mine.


Christ, being our example, shows us the way. In order to receive the fullness of God's plan, we must be willing to lay down our pseudo-freedoms before the will and way of God Almighty. Through this, we find ourselves submitted to the Lordship of the Father. This may sound simple, but in truth it is not. Why? Becasue laying down our man-given/American/self claimed rights and privileges is un-natural to the heart of man. To truly place ourselves as slaves into the hands of God requires submission to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus outlines this process in John 8:31-32:
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My Word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,"

Many Christians are familiar with "and the truth shall set you free", but few are aware of the requirements in the previous verse. Jesus said, in order to receive the freedom, we must first become "disciples indeed". How do we do that? Back tracking in verse 31 a bit further gives us another clue. We must learn to abide in the Word of Jesus Christ. The word "abide" presents the idea of making the Word our lifestyle. Not just our reading past time....our lifestyle. Not just something we do on Sunday....our LIFESTYLE. When the Word becomes the way we live, we are then be recognized by God as a disciple of Christ. At this time we will begin experiencing the truth in our daily lives. In other words, the Bible become alive in our lives on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, along with Sunday. When this becomes true for you and me, Jesus said the truth will set us free.

True freedom is within our grasp, but it comes only when we have laid down our man-given, self expected freedoms, and become slaves to the Freedom giver.

There's a story told of an old Moravian missionary who was ministering in the West Indies. No matter how much he tried he couldn’t get access to the natives because they were working all day as slaves, and then when they got home at night they were too tired to be receptive to the gospel. After he had failed with every plan he could think of, Romans 12 verse 1 came to him, about offering your body as a living sacrifice. He took drastic action, and do you know what he did? He sold himself into slavery! The man that purchased the missionary began driving him, and the other slaves, into the work fields everyday. Finally the missionary was able to ministry to the people he was called to. You see, he gave up his right of freedom for the for the cause of Christ.

How much do we do that? Come on, we're not just talking about pastors and missionaries here, this is for us all. Are we obsessed with our rights? Can we say in the spirit of Christ, like the Moravian man, like Paul the apostle, and C.T. Studd: 'If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him'.

Im proud to be a slave…because in these chains I found my freedom.