The past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about what is freedom, and why I love to talk about it 🙂 This week, we’re going to start to dive into the practical side of learning to walk in freedom.
Spend time with the Freedom Giver.
Before you check out mentally, let me be very clear in saying this is not a post that will say: “If you spent more time with God, you wouldn’t be facing the issues you are.” That’s hogwash. I know LOTS of people dealing with life-controlling issues, particularly those of a sexual nature, have likely been told ad nauseum to pray and read the Bible more. I’ll be the first to say that yes, it’s an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the whole puzzle. In the coming weeks, I will also share that we need to spend time with believers, we need to correctly understand grace, and some other practical tips. But the reason I encourage you to first spend time with the freedom giver is strategic.
I minister primarily to Christians dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. This is broadening slowly as people approach me outside of the ministry I direct, but this is its primary focus. They come to the ministry because they can’t figure out how to deal with a particular problem/temptation.
Well, there are a few things about approaching your issues in this way that are not super helpful. First, we were never promised a life free of temptation. After all, Jesus was tempted, but did not sin. We’re pretty much promised temptation! It’s how we respond that we have more control over.
Second, when we spend our lives micro-managing a particular struggle, we quickly lose sight of the bigger picture. We are not simply a problem. Our identity is not defined by what we struggle with. Our identity is defined by our Creator. The often-quoted verses in 1 Corinthians 6 list a string of offenders that will not inherit the kingdom of God. And then the punchline: “That is what some of you were”. Our identity doesn’t lie in how our struggle with sin manifests itself anymore! We are new creations. Our identity now rests in God. And all our problems wouldn’t go away if this one problem went away 🙂 We’d just get a new set of problems because we haven’t dealt with the core issues of who we are, who God is, and what true freedom looks like.
Bob Hamp has said that freedom is not the absence of something; it’s the presence of someone. That someone is God. This is so important. This is why we need to spend time with the Freedom Giver! This is where we find out who we are and who He created us to be.
When we begin to follow Jesus Christ, often we talk about how we have a relationship with Christ. And that’s true. Whereas sin used keep us from truly knowing God and being able to be in relationship with Him, Romans 5:1 says that when we “have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” But let’s think about what it really means to be “in relationship” with God.
I use a lot of marriage analogies because I’m married 🙂 I talk to my husband every day. If a day goes by when I don’t get to sit down, look into eyes and talk with him face to face, I miss it. This time is increasingly difficult to find after having 2 kids 🙂 Even though I am in Roy’s presence quite frequently, it’s not the same if I don’t get to sit down and spend time with him, talking to him face to face. In Psalm 139:7-10, it says there is nowhere we can go and NOT be in God’s presence. But while we’re always in His presence, that doesn’t mean we’re actually spending time with Him. We can’t be in a relationship with someone we don’t know. And how do we learn about the Freedom Giver? One primary way is by spending time in His Word.
Being in a relationship with God is all about surrender. In order to completely surrender, we have to grow to trust Him. But we can’t trust someone we don’t know. And in order for us to truly grow in our knowledge of God, we not only need to read the Word; we need to do what it says. James 1: 22-25 says:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
We need to read the Word and do what it says. We’ve got to take the time to listen to & learn about God’s heart. The things He desires for His children -good things! God loves us more than we could fathom & is concerned about our everyday needs in a way that we could not even imagine. No concern or desire is too small for God.
More on this point next week 🙂