• Stefan Youngblood

Living for Free

I think I saw what it’s like to be free this week. We were playing musical chairs at church (Actually I was playing the piano as preschoolers played) when I realized that these kids seemed totally uninhibited. No cares, no worries, no immediate pressures. Here I was I was sitting at the piano sweating, just trying to think of the next song to play. When I ran out of songs I resorted to “Jingle Bells,” and Disney songs.

Then my friend Blair led in a game of “Freeze-Tag,” and some other game about a shark. The kids went crazy. They ran, and laughed, and skipped and fell. Then they got back up and ran again. Screaming and shouting seemed to somehow be a given, when running. (Do that as an adult, and you get strange looks…I hear)

No wonder Jesus told his followers to let the kids come close to Him. They were the perfect illustration for His teaching. “Unless you change and become as little children, you won’t enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3) No masks, no pretending, no faking. Those are enemies of freedom. Ask unbelievers to name 100 words to describe Christians. It’s doubtful, “free,” will be one of them. Ask the same group to describe Jesus. You can bet, “free,” will make that list.

In the first public worship service Jesus attended after His time in the desert, He chose, of all things, to talk about freedom. He opened the book of Isaiah (61), and read, “…He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, liberty to the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” With our freedom His priority, He lived free from the opinion of what others thought or said.

It reminds me of the Sunday school teacher explaining to her class that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. A seven year old said, “Well, sometimes I say something mean to my brother, but I feel really good inside. Does that mean I’m a hypocrite?” 

The day after “Musical Chairs,” all 275 kids put on a production for the parents. I watched from the sound booth in the back of the room. The kids sang their hearts out for adoring parents. I couldn’t help noticing a small boy in the front who never stopped jumping and twirling as he sang…except to wave to his dad, video in hand, on the front row. It occurred to me that for many people, the image of our heavenly Father with His iPhone in hand, videotaping us, well, makes us kinda nervous. (Aren’t you glad He deletes)

There’s no shortage of messages describing a ticked off God, never happy with our efforts. They say in effect, “Wait till God plays back your video. You’re gonna get it.” I saw a T-shirt that read, “Jesus is coming back…look busy.” I’m almost certain that every parent in that room capturing their kids on video was doing so to applaud and celebrate the effort, not point our all their kids mistakes. Even more, our Father feels joy when His child is free. 

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us.” That, my friend, is freedom. We may turn our backs on God, but God is always facing us. He loves you…right this moment. So, forgive, and ask forgiveness freely and often. Give, love, and live freely. This brings joy to your Father. He who the Son sets free is free indeed.

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