“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Last year a popular and talented celebrity died a tragically early and probably painful death. Whitney Houston won many hearts with her soulful heavenly voice, her beautiful face, an openly charming personality and strong screen presence.
Yes, this writer was one of Whitney’s biggest fans since the beginning of her singing career, and I remember her as a young enviable model in popular 1980’s teen fashion magazines. The lady could make me smile hearing her belt out some unbeatable and unforgettable tunes. The day of her death was a sad day for me.
The media can only be believed to a certain small degree about the lives of celebrities and politicians. Their every move are always scrutinized, then wildly exaggerated and falsified. The rest of us can only speculate, probably most of us quickly judge, cover our kids’ eyes from the scandals, shake our heads, maybe pray, and hope for that person to pull themselves together.
With that reminder, we really don’t know what happened with Whitney and how much of the tabloids extorted her life and personal struggles. Only God, Whitney herself, her family and some personal friends know the real story. And this blog page is not all about Whitney, to justify or speculate about her publicized actions. I do hope she is finally at peace.
What I want to point out is someone so well loved around the world, sought after, idolized and envied as Whitney can also have a whole closet full of personal struggles, addictions, weaknesses, and yes – sin – despite her talents, fame, beauty, and fortune.
The best of us cannot escape these decaying problems through life. As I ponder that, I can certainly admit I fall short in many ways of a perfectly upstanding Christian person. There is no such thing.
But I do ask this – if half of her highly publicized personal addictions were true, what would her life have been like if she had freedom from that entanglement? What would she have done with that freedom?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the raced marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
If you asked someone who is trapped in addictions and constant self-destructive attitudes if this is how they pictured their life to be if they had not become bound by their sinful and destructive choices, what do you think they’d say? I’m sure a majority of addicts had different youthful dreams of how their lives would turn out. Can you recall some bad choices in your own life? Of course – we all can!
What would I do with freedom? Thankfully I have that freedom, for the most part, but I do have some personal struggles with sin as anyone else. If I did not have that struggle, I’d enjoy being freed from enslavement in sin. I’m forgiven, but I still have to own up to my personal setbacks and try to do better. Someday I know when I cross over that veil and face Christ at last and be with Him, I’m going to have that absolute peace!
What would you do with freedom?
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 1Peter 1:14
Ignorance is also a type of bondage, though it is certainly not a sin. Imagine being a slave in some 3rd world country (or even here in the US) who can’t have any say on his own life and choices, or who can’t read, earn a salary or make education or medical decisions. Now imagine being raised that way all your life and into your adulthood.
I watched with a combination of wonder and sadness in a popular movie a black man portrayed as an illiterate slave hold his hat in his hand and wish he could read a public notice, probably knowing in his heart that what was on that paper granted him a changed life. A spoiled and prejudiced plantation owner chided him to either get to work or read the notice, and made fun of him for not being able to read, then pushed him aside to read the notice out loud to everyone else. As the black slave listened to the listed awards for slaves who willingly signed up and became a paid member of the militia would also be ‘granted freedom’ at the end of their service, you could see the hope on his face. The plantation owner could not believe the US Govt. would grant this, and turned to the black man, asking him sarcastically, “What are you going to do with freedom?” The slave couldn’t answer, but only speculated in his mind exactly what he would do with that awesome gift – to make educated choices and become anything he wanted. He was about to enter an era of learning and growing up, a second chance in his adulthood. Someone who spent their whole life with those luxuries cannot possibly understand how fortunate they are to escape ignorance.
That question had a profound affect on me too, even as someone who is educated and free and healthy. CLEARLY this slave did not have a choice in his ignorance of literacy, decision making, education, life choices, etc, but he hoped for it. He probably would make good on a few areas if he could. That – he understood – is personal choice!
I imagined all the ways a person can be a slave to someone or something. It’s doubtful now that I could be coerced into becoming someone’s personal minion and do all their dirty work, or an ‘owned’ slave with no say in anything about my life. I never was an addict to drugs, sex, porn, gambling, or alcohol, or even excessive spending – but that was by choice. Honestly, I would rather be dead than bound in slavery to an earthly master.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30
Perhaps worse than initial ignorance, or just as frustrating, is having the whole world in the palm of your hand but not able to break out of expensive and potentially deadly addictions, and letting the global population watch and gossip as your life spirals out of control. Whitney had that chance at popularity and fortune that so many only ever dreamed about, but obviously made some bad choices with all those temptations so freely thrown at her. I don’t know if that was even the case. But freedom goes beyond education, fame, wealth and popularity. It is almost always a choice. Almost.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
For all the poor or rich, slaves or executive CEO’s, most can admit they don’t have total peace in their lives, and they spend plenty to obtain it in various ways, a lifelong search for that very essence of simple peace of mind from things that entrap them. It’s a mere dream to be free from worries of their past tragedies, and they often mask their pain in chemical or adrenaline stimulation dependencies, or maybe therapy or New Age meditation techniques.
Only one thing I have found to be truly freeing is the free gift of Grace through Jesus Christ. No matter what’s going on, good or bad, I know He’s always there, always loving, always caring, always providing, and always true. No matter which way the wind blows – and the world follows every shift of it – He’s never changing and always found waiting if we earnestly seek Him and repent, which gives us a clean slate, a new Life, and new Hope.
Even better is the freedom from fear of death and what is going to become of this crazy, already out of control world. The more imperfect men try to fix it all, the worse everything gets. The more I try to fix my messed up life (at this time of writing) the worse I make it. The only assurance I have is that He’s fixed everything and I need to be patient in living out these continuing chapters. I don’t have to worry about it, just rest in Him. The rest I have in that is truly – FREEING! As soon as I take my eyes off Him and try to reason things on my own, I end up not sleeping and become overwhelmed with worry, despair, anxiety and even physical pain.
Maybe your burden is not worry, but the self-induced CHOICES you make in money troubles through irresponsible spending, chemical addictions, porn, booze, sex, tv, video games, sports, food, laziness, – whatever keeps you from living a normal free victorious life from sin. If you had been raised in such an environment and have not corrected the familiar sinful lifestyle in your own life as an adult, it is not a valid excuse anymore. Be an overcomer.
It’s not too late for you to shake off those unseen chains that bind you down to misery and uncertainty. What you need is to turn to Christ, believe with all your mind, body and soul that He is the Christ, the Savior, repent of your sinful nature and become born again into His Family. In Him – ONLY Him (and not some 12 step program) – can you find that true lasting escape from enslavement that lasts through eternity. Simply SEEK GOD, PRAY, REPENT, BELIEVE (that Jesus is the Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords), WORSHIP at a carefully prayed about and chosen biblical church, AND READ THE BIBLE! All choices, all free, and all very simple. Adding rules and duties are more burdens, so take it slow with jumping into ‘ministries’, and just grow and walk with God for a little while. It’s perfectly acceptable to God to hold off becoming a member somewhere until you are sure that’s where God wants you, so don’t be pressured to sign up. Let God lead you.
Be free. Be steady, and get ready!