Walking out the freedom that Jesus extends to His followers is easier said than done. The sad reality of our fallen condition is that we would rather live the way we are familiar and comfortable with, even if it means living in bondage, rather than embrace the new and unfamiliar way that Jesus has for us. I mean, the scary part of being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) is the deep longing to be transformed, but not knowing what that looks like and the difficulty in being able to recognize the new way when God brings it into our lives. But, I do believe that the more we learn to embrace this new way, the more our hearts will trust in God’s ways where the rocky road of sanctification will become more comfortable to us than the smooth road of convenience. At the heart of this is trust: learning to trust in the goodness and grace of God.
Rather than rattle off verse after Scripture verse that talks about the goodness and grace of God (I do recommend doing a word search of both words) I think a better question to ask is, “What kind of thorns and scars do you have in and on your heart?” You see, it is these thorns and scars (our woundedness) that keeps us from living free because our woundedness keeps both God and people at arm’s length. It’s our woundedness that distorts the way we see the world, people, ourselves and God. But, the Good News is that God is lovingly faithful and patient and His perfect love has a way of healing our hearts. The more we soak in His love the more our hearts are tenderized both towards Him and people. What I love about God’s unconditional love is that His love is active, meaning, His love moves Him to pursue us. Isn’t that the words of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When I came to faith roughly 10 years ago, I remember feeling so inadequate in my ability to both give and receive love. I also remember being moved by Holy Spirit to begin asking Jesus to show me what it means to love and be loved. I literally prayed this prayer for at least three years, if not longer. Today, I’m feeling the same tugging at my heart to begin again praying this prayer. It’s humbling, the deeper I delve into the Father’s heart, the more aware I become of the shallowness of my own love, both for God and others. From my perspective, living free means the ability to love free. But, our woundedness is stingy with love and likes to horde love which hinders us from loving freely. Now a verse that has been a great comfort to me is “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). What this says to me is that I don’t have to generate love on my own, rather all I need to do is lean into the Father’s perfect unconditional love and His love will begin to fuel and fire my own love which will also set me free to love.
When I look at Jesus’ life while He walked the earth, I see a man who loved passionately, faithfully, authentically, virtuously and completely free. Jesus knew what it meant to love and live in freedom. Nothing held Jesus back from living and loving free because He fully understood our Father’s love for Him. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that He was God’s beloved Son. It is the same for us, knowing that we are God’s beloved sons and daughters changes everything because the more fully we embrace this reality, the more readily we will “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). I know personally, the more I am around the throne of grace, the more I understand who God is to me and who I am to God. He is my beloved Father and I am His beloved child in whom He adores and delights. When we experience the depths of the Father’s love, His love heals, saves, redeems, restores and sustains us. Remember nothing can separate us from the love God has for us in Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).
Living free means loving free. Being a new creation in Christ means becoming more and more like Him each and everyday which means learning to love more passionately, faithfully, authentically, virtuously and completely free. Jesus promises us that if If we seek the freedom to live and love free, we will find it (Matthew 7:7,8). I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Good News to me. This is my prayer: “Jesus, show us what it means to love and be loved. Show us how to live and love freely. Teach us to love like You. Heal the wounds of our hearts that hinders us from living and loving free. Whatever it takes Jesus because You are worth it. We love You our Savior King! Amen.”