The Other Side Of Freedom
by Joy Martin, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
Today Americans will celebrate our nation’s freedom by firing up the grill, sipping on ice-cold drinks, and watching fireworks displays. And that’s all fine and dandy. Today, however, I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about a much more important freedom—the kind that has eternal consequences.
We at Set Me Free Ministries take that freedom—the freedom that can only be found in Christ Jesus—seriously. In fact, it’s the reason this ministry was born. I think perhaps our website says it best: “Set Me Free Ministries began as a desire to see Christians put down the facade of ‘being religious’ and truly be ‘real’ with both Christians and non-Christians alike—the idea of a world in which Christians live by the fruit of the spirit and walk in love. Years later that desire was combined with a deep burden for women (and men) who find themselves in spiritual bondage.”
The first step to claiming this freedom for yourself is easy. In fact, it’s as simple as praying one brief request—that Jesus would become the Lord of your life—and repenting of your sins. This gift is ours because of the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus—the One Who came to Earth, the Word Who became Flesh—when He paid the price for our sins. As John 3:16 tells us, “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.”
“Okay,” you may say, “so what’s next?” Well, I would love to be able to tell you that once you take that first step, it’s all kittens, flowers, and candy, but that would make me a liar. The truth is that while it is, in fact, easy, that first step is just that—only the first step. It’s the “what’s next” that trips people up. See, the truth is that living in freedom is work. Being a Christian isn’t about telling your friends you’ve found God, slapping a “Jesus fish” bumper sticker on your car, and changing all of your preset radio stations to contemporary Christian rock. In fact, being a Christian isn’t even about going to church every Sunday or attending a weekly Bible study. While all of those things are nice, and some are even important for spiritual growth, none of them gets to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.
In His time here on Earth, Jesus called us to serve others and help those in need (Matthew 25:31–46). He called us take up our crosses and follow Him (Luke 14:27). He called us to leave behind our lives of sin (John 8:2–11). And while those things may sound nice on the surface, if you dig deep, each one means work—hard work—for the believer. It’s important to also note, however, as we are reminded in Hebrews 13:5, that God has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Before I continue, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. God’s grace is a gift—a FREE gift. You can’t earn your way to heaven. The Bible makes it crystal clear that there is only one way to the Father, and that’s through Jesus. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
With that said, as Christians, we have been called to follow the example Jesus set for us and to live apart from the world. We can’t stand idly by and simply call ourselves Christians, because we have been called to do all of those things Jesus taught—we have been called to be His hands and feet here on Earth.
James 2:14–17 explains, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
And in Galatians 5:1; 13–14, Paul tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.… 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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
See, while accepting Christ Jesus as your Savior is the first step, it is the rest of the journey that has the potential to either bring others to Jesus or push them away. Think about that the next time you tell someone you’re a Christian. Will they see Christ in you? Will they want the freedom you have and the love you radiate? Or will they wonder if “being a Christian” means anything at all?
As you think about freedom today, I ask you to consider the true freedom we are offered by the One who created the very ground we stand on and the air we breathe. But more than that, I ask you—no, I beg of you—to go out and act on it. Join those of us at Set Me Free Ministries as we show the world what being a Christian really means.