Anyone who’s ever taken the step of admitting they’re an addict knows what it’s like to have this nagging feeling that true freedom isn’t attainable. But if you’re open, you’ll find that there are people out there screaming from the mountaintops that they have found freedom.
Sure, there are those who claim freedom, though they have simply traded a prison of addiction for a prison of religion, working out, or other forms of control and/or medication.
But rather than restriction, fear, and judgment, the experience of a free person brings peace, joy, wisdom, and patience…and other fruits of the Spirit. Everyone around that person is touched by it; that’s how we know someone is truly free.
Every truly free person learns a few secrets when they come in to that freedom. I’m going to share four of them with you . My prayer is that, if you don’t know them currently as an everyday experience, you will soon.
Secret #1 – You can’t call yourself an addict and be truly free at the same time.
No – we’re not deceiving ourselves. We haven’t been healed by the power of Beelzebub, no matter what you make of our theology. And we can’t call ourselves addicts anymore. I had a friend who used to attend sex-addicts anonymous religiously – and then he found freedom. His first reaction to this freedom experience was, “Man – I can’t go back there and call myself an addict anymore. I’m not an addict – I can feel it.” Any requirement that a culture or person or group has for us to call ourselves addicts is a religious one of the Pharisaic variety, no matter what label it carries. When you’re free, you know it. (Tweet This!)
Some people are deeply afraid of gauging things like freedom based on felt experiences of life, even though that’s the core of what it is to be human. We all want to wake up tomorrow and just feel amazing. When Jesus talked about “faith like a child,” he wasn’t referring to believing something even though there was no evidence of it. He was referring to accepting our experience as truth. True freedom is an underlying feeling of peace and power, even if you’re going through something that is breaking your heart.
Secret #3 – The “abundant life” that Jesus came to bring is the experience of freedom. (Tweet This!)
Truly free people understand that freedom is not an experience of barricading ourselves against the threats and temptations of the world. Freedom allows us to live unafraid, engaging the world at every turn, taking risks, and finding a greater and greater experience of God as a result. Like the Apostle Paul said, all things are permissible, though not all things are beneficial…..obviously.
Secret #4 – True freedom doesn’t separate us from the world, but unites us to it.
Just before his death at the hands of Nazis, the great German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote from his prison cell:
“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world – watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That, I think, is faith; that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian.”
In a later letter, he spoke of a “religionless Christianity” – one that allowed us to live in the world in a way that no longer required us to dedicate everything to a God we believed had requirements of us. Instead, we could spend our lives truly seeing our world and thus be united to its sufferings – which are the sufferings of Christ.
Deep, I know. But freedom is no shallow thing. This is why it can’t be achieved through moral controls. Blessings to all the pilgrims seeking an experience of true freedom. Jesus said it’s within us – seek it there and everything else will be added to you.