Over the summer I got my fix on “Fixer Upper.” For some reason, I find it deeply pleasing to see a seemingly irredeemable building torn down and built back up. And there is just something about Joanna Gaines that makes me believe that I too can make a room look like it jumped out of the magazine.
But after receiving so many wedding gifts that would allow me to practice decorating my own living space, I realized just how wrong I was. Two things. I don’t have any clue what I am doing and my apartment is tiny! Because of these restrictions, I do not have the freedom to channel my inner Joanna Gaines. There is zero Joanna Gaines in me at all. She has studied room design deeply. She has practiced, likely trying and failing many times before. So her experience has granted her the freedom to turn bare rooms into masterpieces.
As the presidential election creeps closer and closer, the word “freedom” is getting thrown around more as each day passes. But how can we really define freedom? While our nation’s freedom and Joanna’s freedom are great, Galatians 5 gives us amazing insight into the only kind of freedom that really lasts.
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For you were called to freedom, brothers; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.
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The world’s definition of freedom is captivity.
Freedom only goes so far as restriction. Here’s what I mean. In the US, we like to tout our freedom as if there are no harboring restrictions on our lives. Yes, the freedom is a huge blessing. However, we are only as free as our constitution permits. We are only as free as American borders. We are only as free as our numbered days.
By holding fast to this kind of freedom alone, how are we truly free? We only get a taste of what real freedom is. For example, the world wants to tell me that in my marriage I can do whatever I want, and if it ruins the relationship, I should just leave him and find someone else. Or that I have the freedom to consider my future with only my interest at heart. Those who really love me will follow suit. It tells me that I am not responsible for those around me, and I should not take others into consideration.
This kind of freedom terrifies me. I do not want to be held captive by the the barren promises of freedom, telling me that I can do whatever I want. Charging that as long as we are making ourselves feel good, it’ll all be fine.
But what happens when my pleasures stop pleasing me? What happens when I get bored chasing money or beauty or success? At that point, I may know nothing more than chasing things that the world tells me will bring me happiness, and I will be held captive by that chase–restricted by the dull, fleeting satisfaction it offers. I will be left with the realization that my temporary loves will so soon be taken away.
True freedom seeks to serve another.
But Galatians tells us that this “flesh seeking” freedom is not real freedom. Rather, freedom is the realization that our pleasure cannot be found in this world. It is recognizing that the freedom our country and our world offers will only go as far as our time on earth; therefore, we cannot find our identity in these things. True freedom is only offered through Jesus. Freedom in Jesus says, “I will not be held captive by this world. I will live for the next.”
We have to refuse to give way to the things the world says we need to make us happy. For those of us who have hope that lies beyond this world, we have the freedom to break the yoke slavery to sin. We have the freedom to speak firmly and joyously about our Savior. I have the freedom to look at my husband as the church should look at the Jesus. I have the freedom to serve him and love him. We both have the freedom to reject the world’s definition of love that seeks to only commit as long as we are happy.
What to do with this freedom:
If anyone is reading this and does not have an understanding and conviction of Jesus, you are likely very confused by this definition of freedom. I want to invite you to contact me. I will have lunch or coffee or a Skype date with you to talk about how freedom in Jesus has been the most fulfilling freedom I have ever experienced. One thing I do love about this country is that I can boldly proclaim my source of joy, and I want to tell everyone about it.
For those of us that do know Jesus, let us begin utilizing this freedom. Let us put away our preconceived notions this world has laid upon us and find our hope in what The Word of God tells us we have hope in. Let us share this freedom with others, not to be as clanging symbols, but to see our friends and family accept the joy Jesus grants. Our goal cannot be to prove those who do not believe wrong. It should be to be a vessel for the love that has been shown to us. If we are truly satisfied in Him, we should be unsatisfied in the fact that others are not. Let us begin living in this freedom, allowing it to order our lives for His glory.