By Dana Herndon
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13 NIV).
Recently we celebrated America’s 240th birthday. The United States of America, a country like no other, is known for its traditions of freedom and liberty.
I’ve always loved American history. Maybe that’s because I’m a bicentennial baby—born in 1976, the year of America’s 200th birthday. Whatever the reason, I have always been captivated by the stories of our founding fathers and their bravery in the pursuit of liberty.
Yes, we are still blessed in this country to experience freedom. We’re able to disagree with our government without repercussions, and we are free to worship how we see fit. However, we should use this freedom wisely. We should heed the words of Galatians 5:13. We are free, but we should not abuse that freedom.
Many people—Christians included—would never link Christianity and freedom. They view being a Christian as having a list of things you can’t do. People mistakenly believe that to be a “good” Christian, you must act a certain way: don’t do this, don’t act that way, definitely don’t do that.
This isn’t true.
Yes, Christians are supposed to act a certain way. The word itself—Christian—means Christ-like. As Christ followers, to the best of our abilities we should act like Christ, though this is not always going to look exactly the same. The Lord has given us all free will, but he has also put guidelines and boundaries in place for us. This is not to squelch our spirits or make us monotonous Christian robots, but for our own personal benefit so we can fully enjoy our freedom in Christ.
We have wonderful freedom when we follow him, if we truly let him be our Lord–freedom from guilt, from shame, from pain, from death.
I’ve heard people describe this freedom with eloquent and passionate words, seen them weep and rejoice at the joy it brings. For a while I didn’t get it. Yes, I loved the Lord and believed in the freedom he gives, but I wasn’t experiencing it myself—not on a deep level.
Why? Because I like to be in control.
“Yes, Jesus is the Lord of my life. I release everything to him. I rejoice in the freedom of Christ.” I can say this and truly mean it, but my hands have to be pried open finger by finger to relinquish my control. Sometimes I even try to take it back. I don’t know why I want the illusion of control. It only leads to stress and anxiety, and it is definitely not freeing.
So why do I keep giving up my freedom?
We humans are a stubborn group. I know in my head and my heart the Lord is in control of everything and my perceived control is just that—perceived. But sometimes freedom can be scary. The founding fathers of America truly believed in being a free nation. However, with their writings and proclamations they were committing treason against England, a crime punishable by death. If they failed, they would lose everything—their homes, their families, their wealth, and their lives. I imagine that weighed heavily on them. They were taking on the most powerful country in the world at the time, and the odds were against them. But they knew freedom was worth it.
It may be cliché, but we should “let go and let God.” We must open our tight-fisted hands and give whatever we are clutching to the Lord. The freedom in Christ is so worth it.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17 NIV).
Dana Herndon is a writer and blogger as well as an elementary and middle school teacher. She and her husband live in Georgia with their three children. In addition to teaching and writing, Dana loves to read, watch Food Network and HGTV, follow politics, and paddleboard. She blogs at danaherndon.com.