Images stay clear of a time I danced on the banks of a man-made lake in Phuket, Thailand under the same stars and God as King David danced and I jumped and spun like a free man. The night was too warm to be fully clothed. There was darkness and it’s only opposition my body and the truck from which music played and the moon, it calm and tranquil and a pale twin rippling off the lake below. I was barefoot in damp grass. The end of the night came quickly. In the culminating dance, I was no longer dancing like I was free. Something had broken and I was free. It was part of me now. I turned the music low and drove the truck home with the windows down.
For anyone unsure of what I mean by freedom, I’m referring to the freedom so often missed by Christians. It’s the freedom to live fully alive, fully you. It’s getting back the way Christ intended his church and children to live – free of guilt and condemnation, of religion, rules and worry. I had known it existed because I saw it in others. After that night and after Thailand, I received freedom. I had no idea what that really meant.
I have a married friend that I asked back when he was still dating his wife if he was ever intimidated by her father. I assumed, like most fathers, he played the typical tough dad role. I imagined him cleaning his shotgun on the front porch as my friend dropped her off after a date.
“Actually,” he said, “her dad has never tried to scare me before. More than anything, I know he trusts me with his daughter, and because of that I know I have a lot of responsibility when it comes to taking care of her. It’s much more effective than trying to intimidate me.” He had the freedom to act as he wanted toward his girlfriend, but due to the great responsibility of knowing he was trusted by a father, he treated her right. They’re happily married.
There’s another friend, she went on the World Race with me. After Thailand there was Africa, and in Africa she had seen what freedom can mean. “I’m tired of hearing that word. I no longer associate the word freedom as a good thing,” she said.
As free people, we often want to use the ‘I’m free Card’ to do anything we want while losing sight of staying holy. I find when I’m being someone other than who I am, whether it’s being a jerk or slandering or being selfish and being ‘free instead of holy’, it’s only because I don’t want to hold myself to a high standard.
I used to ask myself, ‘which is more important, being free or being holy?’ but now I understand. They are synonymous. We are entrusted with complete freedom, so we desire to live holy. The King of Kings and my dad has entrusted me with the power to choose to act in whatever way I desire.
The false God, the one religion created, the one that punishes with a mighty fist and demands obedience, does not offer freedom, or a desire to live holy. There’s nothing responsible about not having a choice, and there’s nothing loving about doing something because I have to do it. It’s much less effective trying to intimidate.
My freedom is what brings me into holiness, not keeps me away. I find when I repent and ask to be called to a high standard, I walk in more freedom to live righteously. Two years after receiving freedom in Christ, I finally realize the true value freedom offers. And I’ve also realized freedom is not a dangerous word or an excuse. It is good.
Has your freedom ever gotten in the way of living fully alive? Has your desire to live holy ever been in the way you living free?