As Christians, we talk a lot about freedom. I get the impression that we know as much about freedom as we do about heaven.
Heaven is where we will finally be freed from all that binds us. Salvation is the beginning, the carrying out of, and the fulfillment of a process to free us.
There is the objection. How free can we really be if we have to worship? That is where we go wrong. We think worship is some requirement set on us by the higher ups. We only think of worship as a bad thing because we are here now and we are too weak to think of anything beyond what is right in front of our eyes.
Worship is the recreation of the free.
Becoming free is a lifelong process. Some call it sanctification which has to do with holiness. We talk about holiness like it’s a bad thing too. To be holy is to be separate. We think of separation as exclusivity, like we’ve sought out a country club to retreat from the world.
You can hang out with your hostage-taker if you like but Jesus is offering to break us out. I’m going to take him up on it. Why shouldn’t I listen to him? No one else has offered to help me get free. Sure, some other guys said they wanted to help. They were really nice and understood where I was coming from but they just told me to get comfortable.
I said, “I hate these block walls.” They said, “Put up a poster.”
I said, “There’s nothing to do here.” They said, “Turn on the TV.”
I said, “It’s so stuffy, I need some air.” They said, “Open a window.”
“But I want to go out there.”
“Why? Everything you could want is right here. Anything we don’t have, you can order.”
“I just want to be free.”
“But we want you to stay here. Don’t you love us?”
For most Christians, the story of their spiritual journey is two-part: before and after. “Before I was a sinner, then I got saved. Now I am free.” But for that story to really stick we’ve got to learn it a little at a time. If sin was in every sense a thing of the past, if salvation was anything short of the ongoing work of Christ in us, and we were cut loose from every binding all at once, once and for all, we’d quickly forget how we got there.
And we’d get chained up again.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato
It’s true. While we like to think of getting saved as an event that happens to us and that we move on from, we are only free in parts and to an extent.
We may be in bondage to ideas, attitudes, habits, circumstances, or illnesses. Each of us bears some affliction.
In Christ, we are free and yet we are still being freed. In increments we learn what freedom is. In increments we learn to worship and as we learn we rely less on the chains to comfort us. We rely less on what is happening around us and more on what God is doing in us.
This is how we come to be free. This is how we get to heaven.