THE BELIEVER'S FREEDOM
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. I Corinthians 10:23-24
As we all grow up, there are certain ideas that we have grown up with the give us freedom. For example, if I am able to wake up in my home, I should have the freedom to do anything with in reason in my home. I should be able to make a decision that if I want to sit on the couch all day and just veg out, I should have the right to do that as long as I am not infringing on the rights of anyone else in my house or in the world. So is true when we think about the freedom we have as believers. As we continue to walk through our personal spiritual journeys, we are able to see that God has given us the freedom and the ability to pour into the lives of others. We have been given the freedom to pray for our schools, teachers, country, families, churches and other nations. We have been given the freedom to speak out God's Word in truth and to help build others up as they are continuing to figure out the path that God is leading them on. However, we have not been given the freedom to fully criticize and critique in hate people how have not yet been enlightened by the love, grace and mercy of God. We hav NOT been given the freedom to only look out for ourselves, because God has given us the instructions to love our neighbor as ourself and to follow the examples of Christ. I know there is a very fine line with each of these examples, but one thing we can continue to rely on is that God will continue show us ways to use our freedom to help others in this world.
As you look around you right now, my question is who around you is in need of being free? Who around you right now is drowning in sin or being choked out by the world and is chained to their lives with not hope of escaping? If you can put a name to someone that is in that situation, then God has opened your eyes and burdened you to go and share God's plan of freedom to them. If your name is the one that came to mind, then God is inviting you to stop and step back. God is asking you to look beyond your current situation and realize that He is willing to truly help lead you out of this bondage. Remember the other day when we said that there is no temptation that we can not handle that was common to man, and if it was a situation, God would help show you a way to escape. This escape is how God is
directing your life to help you find eternal freedom. I know that for a lot of us we honestly don't believe that we will ever be free. Free from chains of debt, work schedules, or just life in general. We continue to feel as though we are trapped in this merry go round and we can never get off. And I need you to understand that God is there to help in our times of need. God has placed people in our path to help guide us to find freedom, but once we find freedom, we are also called to go and help others in the same way we were shown how to be free. Believer's freedom is not just a one time thing that once we get it we are done. On the contrary, once we figure out how to attain freedom and apply it in our lives, we find that evil will continue to due anything to once again shackle us down.
As we read through Paul's teaching again today, we are able to see that there is some conflicting language that may really confuse us when we see it for the first time. Look at the scripture again: “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." As Christians, we have to understand that when we carry the Gospel into the world, not everyone, especially non-christians are going to automatically stop what they are doing or who they are just to follow Christ. One of the greatest examples I can think of is when I was a missionary to Germany. We went into to old East Germany after the falling of the Berlin Wall, and wanted to teach these students what it was like to live in America. We brought photo albums and some staple foods from Georgia and we really wanted to paint a picture of how great it was to live in America. We wanted each one of these students and their families to become a Christian and enjoy the same life that we had. WHAT A DISASTER... Now understand, the relationships that we built were genuine, but we were so ready for them to become so much like us that we never truly engaged in their culture and understood how God was using them. See we are not all cookie cutter Christians. We have to realize that God has placed people in different places in the world in order to impact the culture that they are in for God. Not to go and change the culture to look like a different one. When Paul says that we have the right to do anything but not everything is beneficial or that everything is not constructive, we have to see through the lens of that culture or context for the best way to equip anyone to live into the freedom God is offering to them.
I say all of that just to say this today. Just because we are Christians, it does not mean we have the freedom to go out and judge the world. We know this because Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that we should not look at a splinter in one's eyes before taking the plank out of our own or another way is judges lest we will be judged. Yes we may be completely correct in the way that we approach people and tell them that their lifestyles are damaging to their physical body or that their decisions may lead to bad consequences, but we must be willing to step into their lives and connect with them on a personal level before
that type of change can occur. There is a time of trust that must be built if we hope to change the habits that may lead to destruction into habits that will lead them to find freedom. In other words, it is never something that we can do just in a short amount of time. If we truly want to see and make changes for God, we have to be willing to stand in the fire and walk beside them in their times of need. When they see how much you truly care for them, then you may get the chance to invest in their lives for eternity. We have been given freedom to go and make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In doing so, we must recognize that this amazing gift of freedom is not to be taken lightly, but one that is presented to us because of our willingness to serve in humility the living God. It is not going to be easy, but the effort that we use for God will be multiplied into the lives of others. Believer's freedom is not because we have a free pass to do what we want, but that we have the ability to empathize and step into a situation not seeking personal gain but the opportunity to connect and walk with others in need.