I am blessed to live in a nation that offers freedoms that many in the world still don’t have available to them. America prides itself on the battles that have been fought for Independence and every American is indebted to each and every man and woman that has sacrificed to make those battles possible. Over 200 hundred years ago there was an uprising of those living in this land showing their desire to be freed from the oppressive and controlling hand of the British government. In 1776, after much fighting and blood shed, the American colonies separated themselves from British rule and declared their independence as 13 sovereign states joined together as one nation… the United States of America. That independence, not just from a British government but from every other entity which poses a threat to the freedoms that we enjoy, is the very thing that America has been fighting to protect since the day that the Declaration was signed.
As I think about the concepts of independence and freedom, as they relate to countries like America and even human relationships, the two seem to describe nearly the same thing. When I am free from something I cannot be constrained by it… I’m not enslaved by it or in bondage to it. When I am independent from something I’m not influenced by it or directed by it… I have zero reliance on it. In the example of a countries independence from another government or system, the newly independent country is now free to make its own decisions without considering a higher governing authority and they no longer rely on that authority for anything. In the case of a child that is old enough to become independent of their parents they begin to surrender their mental, emotional, and physical reliance on that parental entity and they have the freedom to make their own decisions without parental consultation. Note that often times the child/parent transition into independence is one that happens over several years. As it probably should!
The interesting thing to me is that when I consider the relationship with my Heavenly Father the similarities between independence and freedom don’t seem to exist. The two are nearly contradictory if I really think through it. The Gospel of Jesus says that belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ AND complete dependence on His blood for purification is the only way to be justified before a righteous God. As an independent human being… denying any reliance on something greater than myself to justify me in light of all the wrong I’ve done… I am condemned to eternal death and separation from God. Destined to exist apart from everything that is good and pleasing and comfortable… forced to spend “forever” in anguish, pain, and discomfort. See on my own, I have no power to overcome my offenses against a perfect and holy God. Not matter how hard I try… no matter how “good” I try to be… no matter how caring and loving I am to others… no matter how many temptations I resist… how many spiritual battles I overcome… it is all useless because each and every one falls short of perfection. No human being is righteous enough to be seen as pure in His eyes… no, NOT ONE! I, like everyone else, am dead in the life of sin that I live. Since the consequence of sin is eternal death, and I can’t live my life without sinning, then I am destined to die physically AND spiritually. Therefore, I am a slave to the sin that liters my life. I am in BONDAGE! There is NO FREEDOM found in a life that is lived INDEPENDENT of Jesus Christ as savior.
The good news is that, contrary to the negative implications of dependence as it pertains to countries and child/parent relationships, when I am completely dependent on the blood of Jesus Christ to justify me before the Creator of the universe I am free to enter into personal relationship with God as my Father. My heavenly Father, out of his immeasurable love for me, purchased me with the life of His son. He did this because He desperately desires to be in relationship with me. To walk with me… to talk with me… to just be with me! Through His son Jesus He acquired me and by His Holy Spirit He continually pursues me. The very One who puts the breath in my lungs… the One who gives me purpose… the Author and Perfector of my faith… WANTS me! He made a way to save me from my terminal sin problem. In my flesh I will still be tempted and may fall into sin, but since I have accepted Jesus as my savior, God sees me as holy and righteous… the blood that was spilled on the cross by the Lamb of God is my atonement… Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. I am guaranteed eternal life! I have hope of the life to come where I will exist in the presence of the one true God… forever! I am no longer enslaved to consequences of my sins… I am FREE! Perfect FREEDOM, and so much more, is found in a life that is lived in complete DEPENDENCE on Jesus Christ.
Freedom from the consequences of my sin is just the tip of the iceberg! My Father didn’t just send His son to this earth to be sacrificed so that I could have peace of mind knowing that I am forgiven of the wrongs I have done… so that I can go on living my life like everyone else in the world and not feel guilty about my convictions. NO! Christ came so that I could have LIFE and have it ABUNDANTLY. He came so that I could be freed from the traditional confines of this world and He lived a life on this earth so that I would have a perfect example of what ABUNDANT LIFE looks like. He brought His Father glory in ALL that he did by loving His Father and loving other people. The world would say that living a full life is “me-focused”, but the way that human beings were created the fullest life is one lived “God-focused”. I find hope in Colossians 3:1-4…”Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Because Jesus, I am no longer a slave to the ways of this world or the lofty expectations that are cast upon me. I am FREE from the world.
In lue of what Christ did on the cross, I have freedom from the fear of breathing my last breath in this life. I don’t fear death! For when I exhaust my lungs for the last time, I will excuse myself from the brokenness that plagues this world and I will step into the place prepared for me in eternity. I will trade in my earthly struggles and pleasures for unending peace and joy… unlike anything ever experienced in this world. I am a child of God… an heir to His kingdom. Just like it says in Colossians 3… as the world nears its end, I get to share in all of Christ’s glory! There is so much freedom that is available when I live in light of that truth. When I choose to set my hope on the life that comes after death then the fears of this life begin to fade away. “Did make the right decision here?”… “What if I fail?”… “Did I say the right thing there?”… “Do they think I am cool?”… “Did I do enough good things?” It only leads to worry and doubt and fear. I am free to let it all go and fix my eyes on God for my approval. After all, He is the One who wired me up and set me in motion… so He gets the final say. I was only created to fear Him as a righteous God… AND because of Jesus, I am FREE from the fears of this life.
In my INDEPENDENCE I am FREE to choose DEPENDENCE on Jesus Christ as my Savior!
In my DEPENDENCE on Christ I am FREE from the consequences of my sin!
In my FREEDOM I can choose to live an ABUNDANT LIFE, a life lived all4above, no matter the circumstances!