A Gospel of Freedom
Written by Guest Blogger, Holly Winchell
One word: Heavy.
My heart aches. My tear ducts buckle every day under the weight of the current world climate. The tears come too easy. They fall for Innocent bodies robbed of life, for a culture seemingly devoid of compassion and hungry to disprove their political opposition, for individuals who are deeply hurt and repeatedly marginalized by believers of a Christian faith that professes love as the fulfillment of its law. For the droves of believers who desperately wish that their prayers and repentance could retroactively heal the hearts they have broken. For religiosity, for pride, for apathy towards our fellow brothers and sisters; and for myself as a co-laborer and steward of this world, as I have a part in every bit of this madness.
How then, Lord, am I to live in this chaos?
My heart has been in a state of mourning for awhile now. I have felt angst and sadness when I have desired joy and delight. I’ve been reading over my list of grievances for days now and like a scratched record, I feel unable to free myself from this perpetual repetition of sadness.
And then the Lord whispered.
You see, I’ve been staring at this list of things that I’m supposed to be free from as a daughter of Christ: perfection, past hurts and comparison; and I’ve been waiting for a story to come to mind. Is there a piece of my narrative I could share that proves I am indeed free from bitterness? Or jealousy? Or insecurity? Can there be resonance in any of it? It all still feels alive in me. In this moment, I do not feel freedom. I feel chaos.
How then, Lord, am I to live in this chaos?
And in the midst of my desperate searching- through scripture, commentaries, lexicons, sermons, lectures and prayer journals…
Lord whispered and the Spirit revealed what I’d missed. He does this. He finds me in my heart when I am stuck in my head.
“You are free to love me.”
My season of mourning had expired long ago, but I had missed the exit. I’ve been so overcome with the depravity of humanity that I had forgotten the hope that has always belonged to me. Redemption was always the plan. And though free will has an undeniable underbelly, it exists so that we might freely love and worship the one who made us, the one who saved us even from death!
Free Will is our Heritage
Free will was introduced into our story in the garden of Eden. We know the scripture; Adam and Eve were given dominion over everything, paired with the command that they not eat from the tree of knowledge. And things were good. Things were really good. Adam and Eve had no shame and nothing was in the way of their relationship with God. Surely this was freedom at its finest. It only takes until the next chapter of Genesis to see how complex our free will truly is. One question throws everything on its head.
“Does God really have your best in mind?” (Gen. 3:3-5)
And He did. He does. But the fruit from the tree of knowledge: “Was good for food. It was pleasing to the eye. It was desirable for gaining wisdom…” (v.6)
Sin is born. Intimacy with God is lost. And yet, the Lord does not take away our free will. Instead, we see the first clues of God’s plan to use the very free will that we had abused to crush the serpent’s head, thus conquering evil and bringing redemption to His people.
It’s powerful. And it’s been the plan all along. Throughout the Old Testament we see story after story of the widening rebellion of God’s people. When we turn from the God who designed us to create, we wreck. We wreck hearts with our pride, homes with our selfishness, community with our isolation, and friendship with our apathy.
But He refuses to give up on us.
The free will that was given to us so that we might experience joy and delight is abused over and over again but God shows His mercy and righteousness by delivering us from ourselves and offering us the hope of redemption.
Our free will is the cause of much grief, it’s true. But more importantly, the means to how we participate in God’s goodness. For it is freely that we must love and worship. Yes, the world now, as it did then, shows us the lengths to which our freedom can be abused to harm others…
But without the gift of free will, how then can we experience the joy of voluntarily participating in the fierce and abounding love of Christ?
Freedom in Christ is our gift
And there is even more to this beautiful gift of freedom from our Father. Though The Old Testament shows us the pendulum swinging back and forth between God’s chosen people turning away from him, then back to God’s faithfulness and Mercy towards his beloved children, God, in his perfection, brings to fruition His plan to carry us once and for all into the folds of his grace…
For every tear we cry because we have fallen short: Jesus.
For every burden we can no longer carry: Jesus.
For every world problem we can not fix out of our own volition: Jesus.
For every sin we feel ashamed of, for every journey we feel incapable of, for every wound we feel paralyzed by: Jesus.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is ours and He has come to set us free!
While free will was one of the first gifts given by God to humankind, Freedom in Christ is God’s greatest gift to us, through Christ.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
In the midst of the chaos of my life and the world surrounding me I had lost sight of how to live with hope.
God’s gift of freedom from all sin and accusation is mine, but as with any gift, I must accept it! I was spending my days staring at a list of issues I did not know how to free myself from instead of clinging to the hope of salvation, that through Jesus, I am freed into.
Sister, I advise you to sit. Do not move. Root yourself for a moment in the good news of Jesus coming between you and that list of shame and guilt that has kept you from accepting God’s free gift of freedom. I know it’s not easy. I have spent many restless days walking just out of reach of the light. I have closed my hands around my insecurities and doubts and felt undeserving and unable to accept Christ’s freedom more times than I can count.
But today He is calling us to something different!
- Will you sit and allow Christ’s love to wash you clean?
- Will you honor God by freely worshiping Him and loving your neighbor?
- Will you open your hands to His gift of freedom from sin and death and into life?
I long to live free with you. Free, indeed.
Holly Winchell is singer/songwriter and native to Portland, OR. She loves to sing, play piano and create music that is honest and unique. She spends most of her time at Door of Hope Church as the Volunteer Coordinator and loves that she gets to serve with people on a daily basis. If you are interested in learning more about Holly, you can listen to her music or follow her on Facebook!