Am I Truly Free?

“Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him and said… You will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”  John 8:32 (MSG)

Freedom Isn’t Something That Depends On Our Surroundings

Freedom has little to do with where we physically find ourselves.  The Apostle Paul, as recorded in his letter to the church in Philippi, spoke of an inner contentment, even while behind prison bars.  Corrie Ten Boom, well-known author and speaker who experienced life as a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp as a child, is quoted as having said, “freedom isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something we find inside ourselves.”  So what is it that these have found that seems so elusive in today’s world?

Oddly, a person who is behind bars can be free, while an individual who has everything the world has to offer – living in a liberated, ‘free’ country as we do – can have difficulty finding true freedom in their life.

Jesus’ teaching turned the world’s value system upside down.  Broken to be made whole.  Humbled to be exalted.  Weak to be strong.  Last to be first.  Helpless to be empowered.  Authentic to be accepted.  What?  Authentic to be accepted?

If you’re like me, you may have gone to great pains in your life to be accepted by certain others, even if it meant being anything but authentic.  “I won’t be accepted if I’m totally authentic, right?  If I’m totally honest about my life – my feelings – my struggles – what will others think of me?  Will they think I’m not really a Christian? or that I’m not as mature in my faith as I want them to think?  or that I’m a hypocrite?  Will they reject me?”

True Freedom Comes Only Through Christ

True freedom in Christ comes only through genuine intimacy with Him.  And intimacy with Him comes only by allowing His spirit to enter into the deepest, darkest recesses of our being.  Although this intellectually seems so simple, why is it emotionally so difficult?

The answer to this is found, I believe, in Jesus’ words in John 8:32.  It’s not merely that the truth will set me free. It’s that I must experience the truth, and that experience of truth will set me free.  This is much more than merely claiming a truth.  It’s about experiencing THE TRUTH in my inner being… the absolute truth that Jesus loves and accepts me just as I am, with all of my brokenness, inadequacy, self-righteousness, fear, pride, feelings of worthlessness, and so on.  And He wants me to love and accept myself in the very same way.  This is where true freedom in Christ is found.  Way on the inside.  And only when we’re radically and fearlessly honest about ourselves, our stories, our messes, our brokenness.

The honesty that comes from being vulnerable with others is the key that unlocks the bondage to false beliefs and shame deeply concealed in our lives.  Shame is that dark closet that I keep locked, somewhere deep inside of myself, vowing that no one will ever know of those secrets.  The ones that I fear would cause others to think less of me; or to think I’m not a great parent; or to see that I’m not who they really think I am.  Yep… those secrets.

The more vulnerable and transparent I become, the less power toxic shame has in my life.  But conversely, the less vulnerable and transparent I am willing to be, the more power I allow shame to have.  In that reluctance, my life has the tendency to become a series of cover-ups and compensations.  And if I play this pretend game long enough, I begin to believe the same facade that I hope others are believing about me… that I’m good, and I’m not one of ‘those people’ whose lives are messy.  Those people who think God is somehow more impressed with us because we make up our own rules and follow them.  Those people who work sixty hours a week, trying to prove our worth.  Those people with holes punched in our walls and doors unhinged from slamming amidst an argument with our spouse.  Those people who spend hours a day on social media, trying to convince people that our lives are better than theirs.  Those people who look down on others who are different than us.  If I’m totally honest, I am one of ‘those people’!  And if you’re totally honest, you’re one of them too.

Becoming More Honest Allows Us To Fully Experience Jesus’ Unconditional Love

I invite you to consider becoming more honest.  At a deep level, not just on the surface.  Honest with yourself.  Honest before God.  And, eventually, even totally honest and authentic before others.  This is where the freedom Christ speaks of is found.  Freedom to be me, in all of my humanness.  Freedom to let you be you, however broken and messy your life may be.  Freedom to fully experience Jesus’ unconditional love, grace, and mercy in the midst of my greatest brokenness.  And free to share that gift with others who so desperately need to receive it.

IF YOU’RE HONEST
by Francesca Battistelli

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
If we’re honest