Hot take: the Fourth of July is the best holiday of the year (behind Christmas of course). It usually involves cooking out by the pool or watching fireworks on the lake with family and friends. I think the best part may be all the American flag swag and themed décor. (JK, JK.)
However you spent the Fourth, did you spend much time thinking about freedom? I’m guessing you saw a couple posts on your IG feed about how we should be thankful for our country’s freedom. But since then, you’ve probably moved on and not thought much about it.
The interesting thing about freedom is that no matter how free we believe we are, we’re all a “slave” to something—either culture or Christ, money or the Messiah, relationships or the righteous one, the crowd or the cross.
So, what are you a slave to? Or better said, what are you following?
The truth is that real freedom comes from following. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
He asks us to follow Him knowing it will be tough, but also knowing that following Him will give us the true freedom we’re searching for (Luke 9:23).
But the enemy wants you to follow things that pull you away from Jesus. Think of fishing… when you fish, you use a lure to quite literally “lure” the fish onto your hook. Similarly, the enemy uses lures that look like the real thing, like real freedom. He sneakily tempts us into thinking that his fake bait will give us independence and satisfaction, trying anything he can to pull us out of relationship with Jesus.
You’ve probably never said, “I want to be a mediocre Christian.” But you may become one because you want Jesus, plus a lot of other things. Maybe you want Jesus, plus the party life. Jesus, plus a significant other. Jesus, plus money. Jesus, plus popularity. Jesus, plus a mansion.
Following Jesus to freedom might mean that you will have to die to the dream of being “the cool Christian.” You might even get made fun of, rejected, or outcast. Why? Well, being a Christian means that you don’t look like the world (John 17:13-17). It may be hard, but it’s worth it.
Jesus is ready to forgive you. The thing you did last night and the thing you did years ago. Jesus offers us complete forgiveness, and that is where freedom truly begins. And when we realize we’re forgiven, we’re also empowered through Christ to freely forgive others.
But what if I mess up again? What if I wander away?
Do you think you can outrun God? The answer is no, you’re not going to outrun his grace. You’re not going to out-sin his forgiveness. Luke 15 tells us that God leaves the 99 and goes after the 1 that wandered away. When you’ve wandered, you can know that God is running after you and ready to embrace you.
The enemy tries to lure us away from freedom in Jesus by tempting us to sell our lives to corporate America, to stay in unhealthy relationships, to give our bodies away before marriage, to go out to the bars again with toxic friends, to go back to that one website that we know we shouldn’t.