Today is July 4, the day that we as American’s celebrates our independence and freedom. But what if we’re not free. I’m not referring to all the things going on right now politically and socially in our country. I’m talking about real freedom. Freedom in your own life.
How has your life changed in the past six to twelve months? Are you still doing the same things that you’ve always done? Are you still watching the same things you’ve always watched? Listening to the same music? Going the same places? Hanging out with the same people? Nothing new? Nothing original? And yet you want and desire change.
How can you continue to do the same things you’ve always done and expect anything in your life to change? Okay, now allow me to go a little deeper. To be a little more specific with you. Where’s your relationship with God? I’m specifically asking, do you even have a “relationship” or are you just acquaintances?
Our churches today are filled with people who don’t even know Him. People who go to church because it’s Sunday and it’s the cultural thing to do. Maybe that’s how your parents raised you, is on Sunday you go to church. So, you now drag your family to church, sit through an hour “worship” service and then on to everything else you had planned.
Is that what Christ laid down his life for? A lukewarm church that would gather for an hour a week to “worship”? Not even close! Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to condemn anyone. After all this was my life for the first 23 years. Even though I was living like hell, no matter what I had done the night before, Sunday morning, I was going to drag myself out of bed and go to church. Somehow, I thought to myself that by doing so I would get my name off God’s blackboard.
What God Wants
I never knew, nor ever had it explained to me that what God wanted was a “relationship” with me. I thought it was all about religion. I thought it was all about singing songs for 20 minutes, listening to the announcements, praying the Lord’s prayer together, and then listening to the sermon for the remaining time. I’m not saying that these pastors never clearly explained what being a Christian is all about, I’m just saying I never did get it. It’s hard for someone who is spiritually blind and deaf to hear and see the things of God.
I remember that even though I was going to a large mega church, my mom kept trying to invite me to her church. I would keep blowing her off and making excuses as to why I didn’t want to go. But finally, to get her to quit asking me, I finally gave in, and went to church with her. And what do you know? I love it!
My First Time
I remember the first time I was walking up towards the front door of the church, and a lady was on her way out to her car, when she greeted me, and gave me a hug. Had I known what was coming I would have had my guard up, but God in his providence, didn’t allow me to see his surprise attack.
I had a hard exterior and an even harder heart. But I believe that it was at that moment, through that innocent hug, that it was as if God took a hammer and struck my hard heart and it cracked. That was the beginning.
I loved the church so much that I continued to attend every Sunday. Then I started attending their Wednesday night services too. Finally, one Wednesday night I surrendered my life to the Lord. I was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I went down to the alter at the end of the service and talked with one of the pastors and his wife. I told them the life that I had been living, and that I wanted to be free.
I wanted what they had. These people had something I had never seen or experienced before. From that first hug, I experienced unconditional love. I remember thinking to myself, lady, if you knew me, you sure wouldn’t be hugging me. You wouldn’t want anything to do with me. But these people were different.
The funny thing is that this church was made up of a bunch of bikers and other rough looking characters. Kind of like the island of misfit toys. I have never ridden a bike before (not that kind). I didn’t have long hair and a beard. But, none-the-less, they accepted me just as I was. For me. Don’t get me wrong, there were other non-biker people there too, but from the outside looking in, it was a rough bunch. It’s funny to me how God will use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.
I say all of that to say this…. after I prayed and surrendered my life to Jesus, it was as if a heavy burden had been removed from my shoulders. I exchanged phone numbers with the pastor, and he told me that he was going to call me and check on me to see how I’m doing. A day or two later, sure enough he called, and checked in on me. I needed that. I think this is something that is missing from the local church today. Genuine follow up and discipleship with new believers.
You see, I needed someone to walk with me. To teach me what it meant to be a Christian. To help me overcome the strongholds of my past and to walk in this newness of life. I read that the Scripture said, “Whom the son sets free is fee indeed” (John 8:36). But how does that happen and what does that look like to be free?
Whom Will You Serve?
For the past several years up to that point, all I had known was doing drugs, dinking, sleeping around, and living life for myself. A life that I knew would sooner than later end in certain death.
Over the next several years, (and for that matter still to this day) it has been a process of walking in this newfound freedom in Christ. I can tell you that right after giving my life to the Lord, many things fell off, and by God’s grace he took the desire away. But at the same time, there were many more things that it didn’t happen that way.
Every day is a choice. “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Are you going to serve yourself and your old fleshly desires or are you gong to serve and live for the Lord? I know that you can’t life this life that God has called us too apart from surrendering L
Layers of Freedom
However, with Christ, all things are possible to those who believe. I know this, God is no respecter of persons. What he did for me, He’ll do it for you too. The only thing you must do is repent and believe. Repent of your sins (that is to say the same thing about your sins that God says bout them). Then believe (that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but through Him).
If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9). It really is that simple. Understand this, freedom is a process. Sometimes we have layers, upon layers of stuff built up over time, and sometimes it takes time to get down to the root of the issue.
There may be things that fall off right away. If that happens for you like it did for me, praise the Lord! But if not, keep pressing in. Keep seeking after God, and you will see that everyday you’ll become a little bit more and more like Him.
Maybe as you read this, you realize that you’re not truly free. If you find yourself still living in bondage to sin, and not able to escape, you need someone to walk with you. To disciple you. To help you find true and lasting freedom in Christ.
You’ve tried it your way, and you see the results. Now it’s time to try something new. If you need help, if you would like someone to disciple you, please reach out to us by visiting our website at www.imblessed2.com and let us know how we can help. It would be our pleasure to come along side and walk with you down the path of freedom.
Happy Independence Day!