Stop for a minute and do this mental exercise with me. It will make the rest of this article and my invitation to you at the end more meaningful.
What do you think of when you think of the word freedom? Close your eyes and follow your thoughts on the word FREEDOM. Just your first thought for now and follow wherever that image or thought may go. Pause and take a minute or two now before reading on.
Ok, now that your eyes are open, what did you think of? Some of you undoubtably thought of The United States of America. Maybe even visualizing the American flag waving on a flag pole in a soft breeze. Or the men and women who died to keep that freedom. We are blessed to have many freedoms in this country, aren’t we?
Others probably thought of religious freedom. It was given to us originally by the good God of the Bible before it was etched in stone by our founding fathers in the Constitution. Some of us who pictured religious liberty while closing our eyes may have even felt some anxiousness or fear that it is eroding in this country.
Some likely pictured the recent election and whichever candidate you voted for as a better representative of the freedom you wish to enjoy. If your candidate won, you likely feel freer, but if your candidate lost you probably feel less so.
Some of us, I’m sure, pictured the pandemic this year and our loss of freedom in so many areas of our life. Travel freedoms, social freedoms, and the list goes on and on. Losing freedoms sure does give you a deeper appreciation for them, doesn’t it? I wonder how many of us worshiped Jesus with tears in our eyes and goosebumps on our raised arms that first weekend our local church re-opened?
During this mental exercise, you may have painted some other picture of freedom in your mind as well. All of these portraits of freedom are very real and vivid in our minds. They all are important. Yet they all miss the bullseye.
True freedom is found in Christ Jesus. Freedom is the reason he came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on a brutal cross, was buried, and rose again physically on the third day. To free us from our sins and free us to live a life for him. Did some of you picture that spiritual freedom while closing your eyes in this exercise? If so, you get an A+ for this “class!”
Know the truth and it will set you free. (John 8:32)
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)
For those who haven’t trusted in Jesus as the #1 leader of your life and forgiver of your sins, I urge you to do it now. You will not find true freedom anywhere else and it is the reason you may struggle with negative thought patterns and feeling less than free. Even if you are a lifelong church goer yet feel like you are in bondage or never good enough. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about this faith commitment or help you walk through this decision.
For followers of Christ, we say that He is our ultimate freedom, but do we meditate on it, live it out, and regularly practice it? Do we use the tools he gave us in his word to realize who we are in him, free ourselves from negative thought patterns, forgive others, and a fight against a constant barrage of attacks from Satan and his demons? I confess that I often don’t.
It is because of our struggles in this area, that I am happy to present some practical tools for us in the “Freedom in Christ” small group here at Aspen Ridge Church. The staff here recently participated in a weekend retreat with these materials and I found it to be very freeing! I will be facilitating a 10-session small group Saturdays at 11:00 AM, beginning soon, walking through these materials.
We are also praying for and working on launching another “Freedom in Christ” small group for early 2021 with the same content and different leaders. If you are interested in either, please contact me directly.
Now one more mental exercise if you would indulge me. Close your eyes and picture some areas of your life where you feel less than free. You may feel partially or completely in bondage to something or someone. Maybe it is negative thought patterns that keep you from doing what you know you need to do. Perhaps it is unforgiveness toward someone. Now picture being free from whatever or whoever that may be and how that would improve your life so that you could joyfully do the will of God and live within his amazing grace.
I personally experienced that freedom from some bondages in my life including some unforgiveness and with God’s help continue to work toward freedom in other areas. I believe the same could happen for you by putting your trust in Christ and joining this small group. We would love to have you!
Liberty for all,
Eric Krajewski, Director of Small Groups