I grew up in a time and place where parents felt free to let their children play in the neighborhood unsupervised. We’d ride our bikes for miles, play ball in open fields, and explore the hollows of the woods nearby. These are some of my best childhood memories. In recent years, I’ve come to experience a similar freedom in my walk with Christ. I’ve come to realize that instead of a narrow and confining life, it’s a free and wide-open space kind of life.
Yet I fear that many people think of Christianity as a religion governed by an unobtainable and fun-robbing set of dos and don’ts. The Apostle Paul wrote it this way:
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 MSG)
It’s worth noting that Paul wrote those words while in prison.
Does the Bible set forth specific commands? Are there behaviors and thoughts we are commanded against, as well as ones we are called to? Absolutely! Did God give them to control us or keep good things from us? Absolutely not! To a group that professed faith in Him Jesus said:
“If you hold to My teaching, you really are My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
Sin, Jesus said, makes us slaves – confining us in narrow and small spaces (John 8:34).
God freed His people from slavery in Egypt to take them to a land of great freedom:
“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers…So I have come down to rescue them…to bring them out of slavery and into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey’” (Exodus 3:7-8).
He has a promised land for us. Like that of the Israelites, this land is filled with beauty, abundance, and rich provision. Like the Israelites, we occupy this land through faithfully adhering to the commands and ways of God. King David expressed the freedom he found in this way:
“I run in the way of your commands, for You have set my heart free.”
The truth is: God’s ways work. He made the universe and all of us who live in it. It’s logical that He’d also know what is best for us. We are blessed when we hold to His teachings and obey His commands. As a blessed people, we glorify God. Jesus lived free! He lived only to please His Father. He loved wildly and forgave freely. He walked uprightly (in conformity to the will and ways of God).
Christianity would be more appealing to those who don’t believe in Jesus if they saw God’s people living free. Whenever you start feeling hemmed in by your thoughts and emotions, when life feels small and petty, there’s one thing you should do first. It’s Way #4 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:
Run in the way of God’s commands.
Sprint! Run as fast as you can back to the commands of God by running to the Word of God. Know God’s truth. Let His truth set you free.