Meditation on the cross 5: Freedom
For through the law, I died to the law that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. —Galatians 2:19–20
The longing for freedom is deeply ingrained in all our lives. I lived the earlier part of my life in a country where freedom was severely curtailed; the prevailing corrupted belief was that racial segregation was the foundation of true freedom, and countless lives were lost to that end each day. When I left South Africa and came to study in England, the contrast was striking. I had come from a tinderbox atmosphere, unrest bubbling under the surface of life, and here was total ease; here was freedom. But was it true freedom? The freedom for which Christ died for us?
The message of the cross is freedom from sin’s penalty the permanent destruction of a relationship with God and, in a typically strange and paradoxical way, it presents us with a free ticket to a new way of living. We don’t have to keep plodding down the same old paths; we’ve been offered a new road, with new views and a glorious new horizon.
Many of us feel trapped by what the Bible calls strongholds, an unusual word to describe patterns of behaviour and cycles of thought that seem to have us in their grip. We find ourselves obsessed by gaining status or possessions or power; or we feel permanently mean-spirited, insecure, and jealous, unable to rejoice at a friend’s success; or we know that we are addicted to pornography or even to work.
Even as Christians, we can continue to live bound up by these things, behaving as though Christianity is not good news. Are you constantly battling with anxiety, worry, lust, anger, a lack of hope, or despondency? Do these patterns of behaviour make you feel as though you have no control over your life? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then you need to come back to the reality of that freedom purchased for you at the cross.
The power of the Spirit flows from the cross, frees us from the chains of sin and death, and unlocks our prison door. The power of the Spirit is unleashed with astonishing force through the apparent folly of the cross. The prayer that rises from my heart is this: may you come to know for the first time or in a new way, in surpassing and abundant measure, the freedom that is yours in the powerful love of Jesus Christ crucified.
A time to meditate:
Music: “This Is Living,” Aodhan King, Young and Free or Adagio, String Quintet in C Major, Franz Schubert - listen on our Spotify playlist
Reflect: Sometimes we feel stuck—helpless before patterns of behavior and ingrained habits that shame us and stunt us. Whatever we’ve done and wherever we’re stuck, God is our deliverer. If you feel locked in a dark place, imagine Jesus coming and opening the padlock with six words: “The truth will set you free.” You can respond by saying, “I receive your freedom. I am set free.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. As we walk in grace we have not earned, help us to show the power of your love to others that they, too, might be set free. We receive your freedom, and we commit to use it to serve you and serve each other to your glory, by the power of your Spirit, amen.