It is for FREEDOM Christ Set Us Free
JAMES ROBISON — As Christians we know that Christ sets us free, but it’s worth asking and remembering why he sets us free. The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1, in words deceptively simple but profound: “It is for freedom Christ set us free!”
What does that mean? It means he gave each one of us access to the true freedom that only He can give. It means that by abiding in Him in an intimate, personal relationship we would actually know the truth, and that this truth would set us free and enable us to live free of our slavery to sin and darkness. The one who stumbles about in darkness — a prey to fears, foolish impulses and moral ignorance — is not free. But the Lord is “a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path,” leading us freely through the darkest valley into the light of day.
The gift is for Christ’s people, the church, but the blessing spills over to bless others as well. Do you think it’s a coincidence that political, religious and economic freedom first arose in the Christian West, and that Christendom gave the world science and the first civilization in human history with a broad middle class?
True, God does not guarantee easy times for his people, but when a culture or cultures begin to see the world as the work of a good, loving and rational God, and begin to conform themselves bit by bit to God’s will through his son Jesus — as in the case of Medieval and Renaissance Europe and colonial America — amazing things are going to happen. This is the story of The Birth of Freedom, an extraordinary documentary spearheaded by The Stream’s executive editor, Jay Richards, and managing editor, Jonathan Witt. As the film shows, the light of Christianity made an extraordinary difference for the better.
The fact that sin and wickedness persisted in the West doesn’t take away from the fact that the leaven of Christ and Christianity accomplished marvelous things there. Even today the effects of Christianity and Western progress are helping to lift billions out of extreme poverty around the world. That isn’t a politically correct thing to say; it’s just the truth.
So what kind of freedom does Christ offer that could accomplish so much and more? It’s something beyond individual do-whatever-I-feel-whenever-I-feel-like-it freedom. Christ rescues us from a slavery to impulse and appetite. The one who is free in Christ lives under the control of God rather than out of control.
It is also a freedom meant for a people, not just for isolated individuals. Think about it. Did He simply want to lead Moses, Joshua and Caleb into freedom, or did He offer this freedom to a people, to a host, to a nation? He led the nation of Israel out of bondage into such freedom that they could experience productivity and fruitfulness beyond anyone’s imagination.
The land they took possession of was “a land flowing with milk and honey,” and it became increasingly productive and fruitful. This is because people who are set free in God and live free individually and as families can experience all of the bountiful blessing that creatures made in the image of God are designed to experience when they are free.
And when God’s son was born of a virgin and dwelt among us, did He call isolated individuals to an isolated freedom? No, he announced a kingdom of free men and women.
God sends his rain on the just and the unjust. But at the same time, God warns that grief inevitably awaits those who turn their back on the one who offered the freedom and the liberty purchased at a great price. All of human history as well as biblical history prove irrefutably that when you turn your back on the very source of freedom and the truth essential to freedom, you will immediately be headed back to Egypt, back to bondage.
The freedom we enjoy in America enables people to live their rebellious lives the way they want to. But unless they learn to live in personal freedom, they begin to contribute to the loss of freedom for our whole country and the dismantling of freedom and a return to bondage.
America experienced the rise of freedom, but we must repair the foundations of that house or see it crumble. That restoration will not come without a return to the ground of freedom. That ground is the solid rock of Christ upon which we must all build if we expect to withstand the forces of the storms that are certain to come.
The blessings of freedom are great, but freedom is precious and delicate. It can be easily abused, neglected or foolishly cast aside. It must be guarded, and its best and only sure defense is the eternal, unshakable Word of the living God. Rather than shifting like reeds in the cultural wind and imagining this can do anything to inspire or lift up our society, I pray that instead we will lift high the standard of God, the radiant beauty and attractiveness of Christ lifted up — Christ crucified and Christ resurrected and ascended on high. Then we will witness people desperate for freedom being drawn to the only source of life and true liberty.
Understand, while holding high that standard as a necessary source of correction and attraction, we should never use it as a club to beat down those who are already defeated, hurting and desperate for help and relief. Instead, we should remember the Messiah who forgave the woman caught in adultery, touched the outcast leper, and over a meal beside the Galilean sea restored an apostle who had denied Him three times, denied Jesus to the very men bent on crucifying Him! We carry that standard, always remembering that it is a standard of light and grace.
“It is for freedom Christ set us free!” He died and was raised to provide it, and throughout the history of this great nation of ours, it has been protected, safeguarded and even shared because of the blessings it has afforded us. May our national leaders and each of us as believers, concerned citizens, and all those who truly value freedom begin to pray not only, “God bless America,” but, “May America once again bless God and the nations and people of the world.”
That is a freedom worth celebrating.
Reprinted from 2015