What does this abstract word even mean? If you are in Christ, no doubt, you have heard that word applied to your state before God at church many times. But I wonder if this is true, I wonder if we are free. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m free to live as a child of God. Sometimes I feel like I’m chained to sin, even though I might not want to sin (can anyone else relate?).
I read over a recent issue of Christianity Today and Roger Olson’s “The Bond of Freedom” caught my eye. He was exploring this paradox of being free while also being tied to Jesus. Yes we are free. We are free like the train that goes as fast as it possibly can on the rails. Yet, if it was free to go off the tracks, then the train would cease to be free in its purpose. Sure, it was free from the restraints of the railroad track, but now it is free to be a wreck, not a fast train at all. It ceases to function for what it was meant for.
Olson puts it this way,
“The great church father Augustine taught that true freedom is not choice or lack of constraint, but being what you are meant to be. Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then, is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out. The closer we conform to the true image of God, Jesus Christ, the freer we become. The farther we drift from it, the more our freedom shrinks.”
Freedom comes when we grow closer to Christ. Freedom comes when we live our lives in obedience to his will and to his kingdom. Freedom comes when we are conformed into the image of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Father. Freedom comes when we learn the steps of this incredible Trinitarian dance.
Through the transformation into the image of Jesus (slowly, but surely) we are made to no longer be subject to anyone or anything. But through the transformation into the image of Jesus, we are slowly formed to desire to serve others. We will want to do good, not out of obligation, but because we genuinely want to do it, to the praise of God. As Martin Luther would phrase it, “a Christian man [or woman] is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.”
I encourage you to read Olson’s piece, but regardless I want to leave your with a parting exhortation. Dear friend, stand firm in the freedom of Christ: subject to none, servant to all.