I have spent the last three years of my life studying for my degree. I’ve had a schedule where my time was allocated, my deadlines were made for me and even the ability to understand was filtered through somebody else’s interpretation of the course material. So it’s hardly surprising that when I handed in my final assignments the staggering, incredible joy that filled my heart had me literally bouncing up and down on my heels. Yup, seriously, it was that deep. The only word I kept thinking was FREEDOM!! No more tears, no more stressing, just pure and complete freedom.
I remember being in prayer in January of this year, seeking God for direction on what to do with my life, the rest of this year gaping wide in front of me. As much as I have generally been sure of what I wanted to do; I realised that the closer I got to the end of my planned out three years the more that I was panicking, if only because I couldn’t answer the question every single person seemed to be asking: “What are you gonna do when you finish?” (And in the vein of being honest, I was also guilty of asking everyone else that question…my apologies!).
God didn’t give me a plan. He said two words: Freedom and Liberty. It’s always so much easier to ‘stand on the word’ when you can pick it out in black and white, point it out for the brethren and quote not just the chapter and verse but the page and line number where it’s found. So I was honestly looking around thinking I can’t take ‘freedom and liberty’ to the bank this time! (Most of you are probably raising an eyebrow by now: just to be clear, God’s word when it IS God’s word is always ‘bankable’) But I do admit to being closer to the door than the cashier’s desk this time 😀
Still, if any other ‘word’ could have stood me in a place of confidence at such a crucial time in my life I have yet to find it. What you do in your career is one of the few choices that we personally get to make and most especially because of who we are in Christ, this decision is one that we should never take lightly. Most of our lives will be spent working. We all, regardless of ethnicity or religion, will pour out our time and the essence of our lives into our careers. As a child of God, the meaning of these words goes deeper than this. Time is one of those few and far-between things that we have absolutely no choice or control over. It is a currency we have been freely given yet it is limited and cannot be replenished therefore all we can do is spend it. However we spend it is the only thing we can control.
What then has this to do with Freedom and Liberty?
Freedom means several things but two definitions that stood out for me were that:
1.) Freedom is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
2.) It is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.
I want to think, act and speak like my father. And by God’s incredible grace I have the power and the right to do so through Jesus Christ. Yet I often have trouble doing just that. Often, I find that I am so conscious of what is happening around me that I fail to realise how much I have adhered to a thought process that is contrary to my father’s.
Most of us will agree that the only true freedom we have is found in Christ; in the fact that if we do decide to act, speak and think contrary to the way he does, HE remains the exact same as he has always been. Loving father, faithful friend, absolute saviour and keeper…this world can never afford me (or you) that option and many times I’ve found myself chained to a habit or mind-set that takes away my freedom to act, speak or think as I want.
Jim Rohn says that ‘you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with’; society classifies you as a statistic based on your background, ethnicity, class, gender or mental capability whilst the Christian faith tells us that we are ‘sons and co-heirs with Christ’. Whichever category you want to fall into, the fact remains that some thing or someone is influencing you and this influence alongside your own character defines you.
Often, our church experience of ‘freedom’ has caused us to equate this term with deliverance from addictions or sin. Granted we are made free from these things. But beyond that, freedom also has to go past these areas to the very mind and heart of who we are. I’m realising that true freedom is the choice to choose whom to imitate because whether I wish to or not, I will inevitably imitate something or someone. My past, my family traditions, my education, even my experience of ‘church’ has made me to think, speak and act in a certain way and somehow I find that I’m ‘imprisoned/enslaved’ by this conditioning.
Different from freedom, liberty is defined as the statutory right or privilege to be free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by ‘authority’ on one’s behaviour. In Christ, one of my constitutional rights as a Kingdom Citizen is that the ‘authority’ (and by authority I mean societal value placed on people through gender, ethnic or class labelling) of this world cannot (or should not) impose itself on me. I have the legal right to be free WITHIN this society from oppressive restriction on my behaviour or views.
To cut a very long story short…I’m here facing the rest of my life as a Kingdom Citizen with the legal right and incredible privilege to be free from society’s oppressive restrictions. I am not only free to walk in the righteousness of God (through the awesome and finished work of the cross) but I am also free to choose what defines and influences me. Time has to be spent, that is already a truth. But when God said Freedom and Liberty; I had to remember, even as Paul said, that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me but not all things edify…therefore, whether [I] eat or drink, or whatever [I] do, [I]do all to the glory of God…not seeking [my] own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved”
So, when I handed in my final assignments, the only word that I could think was FREEDOM! The ability to choose who I imitate, and by the grace of God, I’m about to imitate my Lord so well that my generation’s ‘statistical norm’ will be eradicated. I want the gender/social/ethnic bias to be so totally warped by my existence in THIS TIME and this MOMENT that this society will never be the same again.
And the only question I want to ask you is How Free will YOU be when you finish?