Written by Rachel Morgan.
There are times when I get stuck, entrapped you might say, in living a certain way, in repeating unproductive and at times destructive behaviors. It seems so impossible to change, to battle against the comfortable and known, no matter how unproductive the behavior may be. We grow accustomed to the expected result that follows our behavior. Taking that first step towards change is the most difficult challenge of all and typically harder than the actual alternative behavior.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
For those of us who know the Lord, we are free to change and get to draw from a well of strength that is not our own. The freedom that comes through our salvation is the freedom to choose to live differently. The freedom to live counter to the way we did before and the way our world lives. If people start noticing we are changing, that is a good thing! The fear of change and the potential discomfort that may ensue paralyzes us from changing but all it does is keep us trapped and floundering when we were meant to live free and flourish.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
What does it mean to be free?
Free from what? To the nonbeliever, freedom may seem like an elusive term that Christians use. They may not feel like they have a need to be freed from anything. Furthermore, the change that comes from a life lived in freedom, may not make sense and may not even appeal to them. But when you experience freedom, you know it …and it is awesome! You may not know exactly what you needed to be freed from, but the healing and liberating process that occurs leaves no doubt that you were imprisoned by something. When you believe that someone loves you just as you are, has a plan for something greater for you, died for you even when you denounced and cursed at them, then miraculously rose from the dead to give you a hope for a future…that’s a game changer! Death is our greatest fear, the worst that could happen to us, and it has been conquered. The same power that conquered death lives in us and empowers us to live a new life in response.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”
How does an understanding of grace and freedom lead to change?
When you are in debt, you really understand what it means to be in bondage. You know what it means to feel like you will never get things under control. Can you imagine someone paying off all of your credit card debt, the rest of your car payments, your mortgage and student loans… and not wanting anything in return, knowing you will never be able to pay back what you owed? Someone you may have heard of, but don’t know personally? Ultimate freedom; an incredible gift! All he asks is that you follow his lead. He will teach you what that looks like, give you the energy and ability to do so and pick you up if you mess up, never flinching or wavering in his love for you. Your response is not out of compulsion, but a grateful heart (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7). As you learn more about him, you will learn what it means to have his character and to love like he does. When we start learning from his example and Spirit in us to serve others, love unconditionally, forgive relentlessly and pursue holiness above popularity or possessions, we are personifying change, which by definition means “The act or instance of making or becoming different”.
You may still go your own way sometimes. But if you are anything like me, after a period of time of living on my own strength, I eventually fall exhausted back in the hands of my Father, similar to a small child fighting a nap they desperately need. They fight against their parent/caregiver and ultimately end up resting peacefully in the arms of the one they fought against.
My prayer for you if you know the Lord, is that you will have renewed strength in your faith in our Savior and Heavenly Father. That you will learn again what it means to rest in his provision and peace and know without a doubt that you are never out of the reaches of Christ’s power to change your life. He is nowhere near done with you!
If you don’t know the Lord, and maybe don’t even see the need for a Savior, I pray that you will examine your life and ask yourself what gives you hope? Purpose? I pray that your heart will be opened, or at least softened to the Lord’s invitation into a life of forgiveness and freedom.
To read more about Rachel, click here.