My two older brothers and I have good relationships...now. That hasn't always been the case. As children, they teamed up against me. One would pin down my hands and body while the other would tickle my feet, stomach, or under my arms. Imagine - eight and ten year old boys against an innocent four year old girl. In response, I learned to kick, flail, and convulse until I had wriggled to freedom. Then I would run for all I was worth.
Freedom. This powerful word has rolled around inside my mind quite a bit through the month of July. Fireworks and BBQ started the month celebrating the 236th anniversary of our nation's declaration of freedom from England. July's theme for the Grow Barefoot Facebook page has been freedom. Each day I have posted a scriptural thought based on our spiritual freedom in Christ. Indeed, Grow Barefoot bases our whole ministry on this idea – Live Free · Pursue Holiness · No Excuses.
I had an interesting thought process one day while I made my bed. My deep, contemplative thoughts often come during the most mundane tasks, like sorting laundry, ironing, making beds, etc. But that's beside the point – here are my thoughts. They are the subtitles; I've added some explanation under each one to clarify what I was thinking.
Living free allows others to live free.
All of us, as Christ’s followers, are free to be who He created us to be. We are each a unique combination of personality traits, spiritual gifts, love languages, and worship styles. We are all at different points on our spiritual journeys; we all have different behavioral liberties. Christ didn't only die for my freedom or your freedom; He died for the freedom of all. Everyone is free to be who God created them to be.
If you don't allow others to be who God created them to be, perhaps you aren't living free.
Many people in the Christian community force themselves into a religious stereotype and then expect everyone else to join them there. When others don't succumb, the stereotypers label them as things like "unchristianlike." In reality, the stereotyper is the one who isn't living in the freedom God gave them.
You try to force, keep, or trap people in the same place you are.
Sadly, these people put all Christians in one category with the same personality traits, worship style, gifts, and behavior. They then expend great amounts of time and energy coercing people to be like they are.
That sounds like Satan, who is trying to take as many as possible with him to hell.
Seriously. As a child, I remember asking my mom, "If Satan knows he is going to hell for eternity, why does he keep fighting? Why doesn't he give up?" The answer was, "He wants to take as many with him as he can." Satan is trapped and he can't do a thing about it. His response is to coerce as many people as possible to join him in that entrapment.
Satan is trapped – he’s not free. He's in bondage and wants everyone else there with him.
That is not the group or the behavior with whom I want to identify! If I am trying to force those around me to behave in a certain way, worship in a certain way, or serve in a certain way, then I am utilizing Satan's method of slavery.