Monday, August 10, 2009

Freedom In Christ

I recently received a Tweet wherein someone called the idea of true freedom being found through Jesus ironic. I responded, asking why she thought that. Her response (in summary) was questioning how there's freedom in following a bunch of rules out of an ancient book - or something like that. Anyway, I've been pondering that for quite some time now. How do you explain the freedom found in Christ to someone who hasn't experienced that freedom? Better yet (or should I say worse?), how do you explain that to someone who clearly doesn't even believe and who considers the Bible merely ancient literature? I asked some of my friends over on FROGs how one goes about tackling this, and the responses I got where interesting. Some were that there are rules in all facets of life - just being part of society, there are rules to follow. One I got was a reminder that in the Bible it says that the Truth is foolishness to those who don't believe - or something like that. So, to me, that means we might have better luck explaining this freedom to the walls.

I think I have been pondering this subconsciously (incubation is one of my FAVORITE tricks the human brain has mastered) for a couple of weeks now. While I still don't have an idea how to explain or describe this amazing freedom, I did have a bit of a breakthrough regarding rules in general.

I know that the familial relationship mirrors that of the God/Man relationship. We have the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost), which is represented by the marriage (God, Husband, Wife) - all three separate but the same. Then we have mankind (God's children, all created by Him) and Earthly children (a product of the marriage, created by Husband and Wife). The connection between the two doesn't stop there. Now that I am a parent, I can see that so much more clearly than ever before.

God gives us rules, just as we give our children rules. God does everything He can to train us, just as we do our very best to train our children to survive - hoping they do more than that, and THRIVE - in this world. This is not done to spoil our fun or to take advantage of us, just as we don't give our children rules to be mean or ruthless dictators. No. We give our children rules and teach our children the way we do because we love them and we want to protect them. THAT is why God gave us all those rules in that old book! These rules aren't to spoil our fun. They aren't to control us. They aren't to deprive us of living life to the fullest. Rather, they ARE in place to protect us. Because He is God, He knows what certain actions and choices can cause to happen. He knows all about cause and effect - and He knows how best to avoid the less-desirable effects by not committing certain causes. We, too, try to keep our children from experiencing the less-positive side of life by teaching them and giving them rules.

Once these rules are broken, oftentimes the effect cannot be stopped. While someone might be able to get away with something for a time, wrongdoing always comes to light - ALWAYS. It might take years, it might take decades, it might even take a lifetime, but it WILL come to light. Heck, sometimes some wrongs aren't discovered until after someone passes. I don't know why the discrepancy for who and what gets found out when, but I do know that everything becomes known. Everything. Often, the effects of such acts are punishment in and of themselves. So, while people might think God is punishing someone, chances are they're reaping the results of some past action. I think mistakes our kids make also sometimes are best punished by letting the consequences be what they are - to ignore the temptation to shelter them from the consequences of their actions. For me, it goes against everything inside me to let my child suffer even the slightest, but how will they learn if they never see what happens next?

Back to my original thought. Freedom in Christ. Knowing that God has these rules in place to protect me makes it a LOT easier for me to follow these rules. Just as I know better than my kids in many cases where experience is the best teacher, God knows better than I do in EVERYTHING. Perhaps I should be a model of obedience for my children to follow? Perhaps if I can show them that while I believe myself to be intelligent and a decent human being, I know God's knowledge and understanding surpass mine, then somehow I can use that to reach them. Maybe I can explain my obedience and choices to them in a way that they will understand, using this analogy. Clearly, this is something that will have to wait until they are older, as I doubt a preschooler and a toddler can grasp this concept. I'm not so sure my first-grader could, either. But, perhaps if I start to SHOW them what true obedience is now, it'll be an easier lesson to teach when they're older. Something tells me there's only one way to find out, and that is by doing.

How does all of this make me free in Christ? (Man, I'm good at tangents, aren't I?) Well, if I follow the code of conduct (for lack of a better term) He has given me, then I am free! I'm free from the consequences of poor choices. I am free from the wages of sin if I live a life following the example set by Him. I am free from everything that comes with not following His will: pain, suffering, loss - the list goes on and on. If I can figure out how to get my flesh in line with my heart and my spirit, I've got it made! I can live a truly free life! And if not, well, hey - at least I know I'll be COMPLETELY free in the afterlife!
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