by Faith Eury Cho
Freedom is one of life’s most coveted commodities. People would do much and pay much to feel unfettered by the pressures of this world. However, the matter of freedom may be a particular challenge for you, especially in light of this year. After all, the reasons to be shackled by the weight of life are unending.
John 8:36 says who the Son sets free is free indeed. Yet, how is that experienced? When you believe in Christ and surrender your life to Him, you are, in essence, free. However, it is absolutely possible to feel anything but that!
The tension we oftentimes experience is that we may believe that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to save us from the punishment of death, but, perhaps, we may not believe that it is enough to save us from the pains of life. Even though we know that He has conquered the grave, we allow ourselves to be conquered by worries and fears. Our souls become weary from being bullied by our daily burdens.
Yet Galatians 5:1 tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
It starts with Jesus.
A common misconception about freedom is that it’s centered around you—your right to do what you want, be what you want, and say what you want. And as appealing as this sounds, it fails to capture the heartbeat of the gospel. Jesus Christ did not go to the cross simply so that we can live our best lives for ourselves. The problem with this mentality is that it focuses entirely on you when, in reality, freedom is not about you at all.
Galatians 5:13-14 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
In other words, freedom is not found in the ability to just “be you.” If anything, one can attain that sort of resolve with all sorts of toxic fuels such as anger, pride, rebellion, apathy, etc. Ultimately, there is no freedom in that.
Instead, freedom is found in the ability to love and to do so like Jesus. The ability to love unreservedly and unconditionally is proof that one is not in bondage to anything. Nothing has a hold on the unconditional lover, for she is liberated from living in reaction to the ugliness of this world. Instead, she is moved solely by the beauty of God’s love.
The fear of losing her job cannot stop her from doing her best to serve.
Rejection cannot stop her from being kind.
The stresses of raising young children don’t discourage her confident praises to God.
No slander, no unjust treatment, no threat of loss can hold her back from shining God’s light towards heaven and towards others.
She is free.
This is a supernatural work of God, for it can only come about when one surrenders to the kindness of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ was the freest man to walk on this earth. The proof of that freedom was not in His individuality or His ability to live aloof to fear. Rather, it was in His ability to love all the way to Calvary, no matter the misunderstandings and accusations. He was so free that he was able to choose the cross on behalf of us all.
He was so full of grace that he was not swayed by Peter’s rejection (Matthew 26).
He was so unoffendable that He washed Judas’s feet (John 13:1-17).
And yes, although he was bound with a crown of thorns and nails to his hands, his soul was untouched by the injustice, to the point that he openly forgave them all (Luke 23:34).
A life governed by the Spirit of Christ is one that has full permission to live for His glorification rather than self-preservation. You are not just free to be you, but you are free to be the best you to others. This is the core of the gospel experience! You are liberated by love so that you can overflow in love.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
This is good news. It means that you can cease to despair over whatever shackles that may exist in your life, for freedom will not be found in your ability to break them off. Rather, it will be found in being loved by Him and loving others. It is not a matter of self-care, nor is it just an independent attitude. Rather, it is a God thing—which is why it exists wherever He dwells.
Faith Eury Cho is the CEO and founder of The Honor Summit, a non-profit organization which exists to refresh and activate Christian women. She is also a pastor, a pastor’s wife, and a church planter. Alongside her husband, she co-pastors a new church plant called The Presence Church. And, when God leads, she writes, does mission work, and travels for speaking engagements. Her most precious role, however, is being a mom to her 4 children: Moriah, Elias, River and Adalynn. You can follow her at @FaithEuryCho.