Freedom

2 Corinthians 3:17 – “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM.”

There are a couple of thoughts that we really need to think about here as we consider the idea of freedom. The truth is that contrary to what we consider as freedom (democracy), the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. Most people think that they can do what they want and go to church where they want. Either Jesus is your Lord or He’s not. The word Lord simply means – Master/Boss. I know that isn’t a popular idea in America, but Jesus wasn’t American. He was and still is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. He came from Heaven to set us FREE from sin and death and to make us ambassadors in His Kingdom. That means that we live by a higher standard than democracy. That is why the apostle Paul tells us – “That we ARE NOT our own, we’ve been bought with a price (you weren’t cheap, it took the Life and Blood of Jesus) so therefore glorify and honor God” (1 Corinthians 6:20). With that in mind let’s consider these thoughts – There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people or pastors. Jesus said in Mark 2:17 “Healthy people don’t need (me) a doctor, but sick people do.” The church is a hospital, meaning that we’re all in the process of being healed. So, since none of us are perfect or totally healed what holds us together? What keeps us connected to a community of believers, protecting and caring for one another? FREEDOM. The freedom to choose to understand and forgive others.

The church is a hospital – meaning that we’re all in the process of being healed!

The idea that if I don’t agree with what someone else is doing that, I can just go somewhere else is a deceptive and divisive thought from Satan himself. That is what got him thrown out of Heaven. What keeps us together is the freedom to love and communicate when we don’t agree. The freedom to honor one another when we don’t agree. When people just walk out on relationships before having an honest, loving conversation keeps them from growing and maturing. They have actually lost out on the purpose of being saved and in the body of Christ, FREEDOM to honor and communicate. In freedom, there is no fear of being rejected or alienated by others because love sets us free from fear (1 John 4:18).  Fear is the opponent of love and honor. Fear triggers anger, division and manipulation. The thought, I’ll show them, I’ll just leave is nothing more than an attempt to control and manipulate, stimulated from anger. Fear takes power away from the offended and puts them in a vulnerable condition now open to evil spirits (Ephesians 4:26,27). That is why when most people leave a church out of disagreement it is never of the Lord. When in a relationship and something is said or done that you don’t agree with, it is never honoring to just be quiet or leave the relationship. The God way and the mature way to handle a disagreement is to honor the relationship by having an honest, loving conversation. Because we are called to be honoring people (1 Peter 2:17). The truth is that we don’t need to be loving and honoring when we agree. How loving and honoring we are is tested by when we don’t agree. 

Our basis for relationship cannot be totally dependent on agreement. The biggest problem in the church is the belief that we have to see eye to eye. The original apostles did not agree on everything or see eye to eye on every matter. But they did love and honor each other by talking about their disagreements. Who we are as a person proves itself in how we handle disagreement. Being an honoring person is not dependent on whether others live up to our expectations. Being a mature honoring person is determined by how we deal with disagreement. Our character is strengthened by dealing with conflict in a loving way. Ignoring the person and walking away from the relationship never grows us.

Being an honoring person is determined by how we handle disagreement.

The highest goal that we should have in life is becoming Christ-like. To love like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus and to honor others the way that Jesus did. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1- “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin (sin can mean- that they’ve done something that you believe is wrong), you who are spiritual should restore that person gently.” We have a responsibility to each other, to recognize how important we are to one another. I believe that most people do not intentionally sin against others. In my over twenty years of professional counseling I have found that when someone offends someone else, the offender is not usually aware of it. When someone has done something that we believe is a relationship breaker we have the opportunity to be like Jesus, we have to be willing to confront with the intention of restoring the relationship. The heart of restoration is never to prove I’m right, the motive behind restoration is relationship. Jesus showed us this after His resurrection. While Jesus was being crucified, Peter sinned against Jesus by denying Him three times, while Jesus was in His most neediness place, on the cross. In fact, Peter had sinned so big that he went back to his old way of life before Christ. But watch Jesus’ example of honor. After His resurrection Jesus goes after Peter, He doesn’t avoid Peter. He finds Peter fishing. Jesus prepared breakfast for Peter and they shared a meal together. That’s how you do it, folks, if you want to be like Jesus. In the conversation, Jesus restores Peter back to friendship (John 21). That is how we are to treat each other in relationship. Make restoration your goal when someone sins against you, don’t write them off. Restoration and honor is being Christ-like.

We all have the FREEDOM to be real and honest with each other.  We all have the FREEDOM to forgive. That is how we stay connected and how we protect our community of believers.

My prayer for you today is that you will find the FREEDOM to be honest, forthright and honoring.

Pointing People to Jesus,

Rocky Byers

“On Earth as it is in Heaven!”