“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
This is my favorite verse in the Bible. I was first impacted by it in high school and its significance only grew in my college years as my view of God shifted from someone I had to constantly please and impress, to a Father who wanted to open up to me a wide expanse. Around that same time I was wondering about my calling to ministry and I was rabidly seeking “God’s will.” I was afraid that I might make a misstep – choose the wrong college, the wrong major, the wrong job and mess up all of the plans God had for me (thereby messing up all of God’s plans). And here in this little verse, Paul was letting me in on God’s will for my life – to be free! What a weight off. And also in this verse, the main “don’t blow it” condition is to simply continue in that freedom!
I remember in college hearing about newly freed slaves after the civil war. How many of them would stand outside the gates of their former master’s plantations because they didn’t know what to do. Without a doubt, a life of slavery was a terrible thing, and slavery was reprehensible. But it was a life they knew. Although freedom was something they had longed for, it was also new and terrifying. There was comfort in the familiar.
“I was free, but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.” Harriet Tubman
Also in college, I saw a similar situation played out. I volunteered for a time in Birmingham’s family court (juvenile detention). I would play basketball and cards with the boys and talk to them about their lives and about Christ. Most of the boys there were repeat offenders and tried to come back into the system because they felt safe, they had 3 meals, a bed, and many of their friends were there. This prison for minors was in their opinion, preferable to freedom.
It’s easy to understand why a kid would return to the comfort of the familiar, and we can understand the safety and food issues. But in comparing freedom that grace brings and the slavery that the law brings – I can’t really see the upside. I guess there is the comfort of the familiar, but God is offering us freedom for freedom’s sake. Possibly we’re too quick to believe the enemies lie that it’s too good to be true.
Paul’s admonition is to stand firm, take the gift for what it is, and don’t be afraid to step out into all that God offers.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- What are some old patterns that while not healthy, you still find yourself returning to?
- What are some ways to renew your mind to stand firm and embrace the freedom that is offered to you?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?