by Natalie Raney
Imagine what it would be like if every person in America, or in the world for that matter were truly free – free from worry, free from sin, free from guilt, free from shame, free from control, free to choose. What does true freedom feel like? What does that look like in our hearts, in our homes and in our community?
We have now all celebrated America’s Independence Day and honored the men and women who have laid down their lives for our flag and the freedoms that it represents. Our son Jack Carlton Raney is one of those young men that is now serving our country in the Marine Corps. As parents of an Auburn University enrolled nineteen year old at the time (December 2018), his decision to enlist was not what we had in mind. After Jack’s request for our support, we went through a period of shock, doubt, and attempts to control the outcome. Yet, in the power of God’s Spirit and Strength, we were able to let go of what was and let God do His new thing. There is a cost to freedom – always! We gave Jack the freedom to choose and with that choice, he would give up what was familiar for what he believed was a greater calling. Jack’s great trade was War Eagle for Semper Fi.
Jack has served in the Marine Corps now for 15 months, currently deployed, continuing to fight for our freedoms as Steve and I sit in our home on July 4th recovering from COVID-19 with seemingly no freedom at all. How can this be? Is this not the most baffling of oxymoron’s? Yet, in the midst of this ever-changing pandemic hardship, there lies a never-changing promise from God for all who believe.
The promise of true freedom is in Christ alone. Our Heavenly Father sent His One and Only Son to the cross for you and me. This was God’s great trade – His One and only Son nailed to a bloodstained cross for our spiritual freedom today and forever.
As amazing as it is to be an American and all the freedoms that come along with our citizenship, nothing compares to our spiritual freedoms. As grateful as I am for the men and women who lay down their lives, I am even more grateful for the One who laid down His life for me so that I can live as a free daughter of the King.
Because of Jesus, I can be isolated in my home, yet with complete freedom in Christ. Because of Jesus, I can be removed from physical proximity, yet continue to experience a close and intimate relationship with Him. Because of Jesus, I am never alone – Christ in me always. This gift of freedom from worry, guilt, shame, sin, condemnation, control can only be found in Him. The Bible is the only book in the universe that delivers on its promise for freedom the second it is opened and the pages are read – only Jesus!
Let’s open our bibles so that I can prove this point. Paul had written a number of letters to the church at Corinth. Paul’s letter,
1 Corinthians, was sent to deal with moral issues in the church much like we are dealing with today. This letter was received well by most but there were some who denied Paul’s authority and slandered his name. Paul then wrote 2 Corinthians to defend his position in Christ and discredit those who were twisting the truth.
In Corinth, the issue was that there were still some that thought salvation came through keeping the OT law; therefore, they found themselves bound and chained to endless rules. Paul reminds the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 3:12-17 that “we are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face…” “Only in Christ is the veil taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
The BUT in verse 16 is a big, huge BUT! This one word was a game changer for Paul because it was his personal testimony. “But when Paul turned to the Lord, the veil was taken away.” This truth still stands today. Go ahead. Slip your name in there. “BUT when Natalie turned to the Lord, the veil was taken away.” By using my own name, I personally feel the Spirit of the Lord and the fragrance of freedom in this one verse.
Like Paul, our circumstances (jailed, beaten down, slandered, isolated, quarantined, unemployed) do not dictate our freedom. Our spiritual freedom is our inheritance today and for eternity and can never be taken from us. It is a gift. So what should we do with this gift?
Paul does not leave us guessing. He tells us in Galatians 5:13, “You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.”
Our great trade as followers of Christ is the freedom FROM sin TO the freedom to serve in the name of Jesus in our homes, our communities and to the ends of the earth.
Think about the impact the body of Christ can have on our world today if we each choose to live in this way. The choice is ours. Will we surrender our lives and allow the Spirit to lead us in using our freedom to serve others?
“…For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17