Freedom Series Intro: Recovering Your Sight
First I want to say thanks again to Cindy Quarles for her awesome post last week. I thought it was a powerful message that has the ability to set us free from a way of thinking about God that is very destructive. I certainly don’t have that kind of depth at this point to go as deep as she was able to on that topic, which is why I really appreciate when others like Greg Henry, Rick Malone and herself take the time to share with my audience.
This is the start of a series I will be doing on freedom. With the 4th of July coming up, I thought it would be good timing. Plus yesterday was my 8 year anniversary of being smoke-free, so it’s always a time I reflect on the freedom God has given me. I’ll start with this blog by talking about some of the benefits of being free, then share a little of my personal testimony and I’ll move on to some specific areas as we progress in this series.
Freedom is one of the best things that has happened to me as a result of hearing the grace message. I mentioned the ice sculptor analogy before, where I feel like God is always at work chipping away at the lies we have been told to reveal who we really are and free us up to be ourselves. There are many things I personally needed to be set free from, so I’ll be sharing about those in each part of the series.
I think the freedom Jesus came to give us in general gets easily lost in most of today’s churches. We become so focused on building the church and doing good things that it quickly becomes burdensome. Things are no longer light and easy like Jesus said it should be, but are heavy and hard. So the first thing I want to establish is the fact that Jesus does indeed want you to be free. Here is a scripture that I think I will quote in every part of this series to remind us:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV).
This has been referred to as Jesus’ mission statement. Notice it’s not a list of do’s and don’ts for us to perform. He sees that we are in bondage to something and He desires to set us free from it. Man was in bondage to the lies we have been told about us and God and the sin that resulted from us believing those lies. This scripture also mentions recovery of sight for the blind. I don’t believe this is only talking about physical blindness but also spiritual blindness. He comes to help us see who we really are. This can apply to every area of our lives.
Success Redefined. Really?
So when I started thinking about this series I noticed that pretty much every aspect of being set free would hinge on redefining what success looks like to most people. The world defines success by finding their worth and value in what they do, what they have and what is happening to them. Contrary to what many seem to believe, I think Greg Henry really nailed it when he said the Gospel is not a means to the American dream. It divorces you from a life defined by what you do, what you have and what is happening to you.The Gospel is not a means to the American dream. It divorces you from life defined by what you have. ~ GH Click To Tweet
Even many Christians struggle with this because they feel they are the blessed of God if they get a big house, big church, nice car, etc. So they are always striving for things and never seem to find contentment with where they are in life. They are not able to enjoy where they are while God gets them where they are going. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but God doesn’t want them to have you. I’ll get into that topic more later on in this series.
Now I know this might sound ridiculous to anybody reading this who doesn’t consider themselves a Christian or at least not a big one but I’m just saying the satisfaction you are seeking only comes from one place, God. Otherwise, you will always have a big empty feeling no matter how much “success” you achieve in the world’s eyes. You may throw fits because you don’t get your “chocolate” but that chocolate won’t ultimately make you happy.
When you are looking to the world to define the report of your life you become a victim to your circumstances. You are always up and down depending on what is going on. A mature Christian is able to consistently find joy and peace in their life regardless of what is going on around them.
In order for us to get free from this bondage, we need to get a revelation of what we have in Christ. When we get this revelation, we will then be able to be set free from all the things of this world that attempt to hold us hostage. It’s like God is down on one knee proposing to you but in order to see this and dance with him you need to be free from the blinders of lies and weight of burdens. Once you are free from these things, then you can move on with God to the deeper relationship He desires to have with you.
It’s important to note that we don’t need to try to get free in our own power…simply continuing to hear the message of Christ will set you free effortlessly. It’s like how people gain weight by eating food. They don’t have to try to gain weight, it just happens when they eat. You don’t have to try to get free, it will happen naturally as a result of hearing and “eating” the right message.
My personal experience is shaped largely by the hip hop culture I grew up in. I was a junior in high school when Eminem started blowing up. I always liked rap, but when Eminem made it big, it was like being a basketball fan in Miami when Lebron decided to take his talents there. To see a white kid from Detroit make it big like that gave us all hope that maybe that could happen to us one day. All of the sudden it’s like every white kid around my neighborhood was a rapper then. If you know anything about rap, you know that they are known for basically worshipping the idols of money, sex, cars, jewelry, etc. If you didn’t have those things you were considered a nobody and garnered no respect. So it’s no surprise that since I didn’t have those things, that is what I dedicated myself to. I felt that once I got those things, then I would be successful . Looking back on those times, I remember never being able to really enjoy my life and be in the moment. My life revolved around what I could do to make more money.
Despite deciding to move to Chicago for a more lucrative career, I was on this treadmill that never really took me anywhere. I thought the opportunity I had in Chicago would be my big break that finally enabled me to have the success I was looking for. Everything looked good on the surface. Everybody was doing well. I would be with my friends from high school and get live in a big city. Well shortly after moving there, the economy crashed and that job that was commission only was way too risky to stay at full-time. I had spent all my savings moving out there and supporting myself while I waiting for the commissions to come in. I didn’t know anybody else in Chicago either. I pretty much had to start all over again from scratch. I fell flat on my face and would’ve just moved back to Michigan had it not been for a lease that I signed just weeks before I realized how bad things were. It changed very quickly. So this is when I turned to God out of desperation. I was very prideful so it was only when I was in a position like this that I finally saw my inability to do this life on my own. But God knows what we need and He proved Himself faithful to me time and time again as I gradually made my way back up again. It was very humbling though.
Just because I turned to God doesn’t mean I was automatically set free from all this striving I was doing. God slowly but surely started chipping away at the lies I was believing and beliefs I was indoctrinated from by all the rap I listened to. It’s like I was in a bubble of God’s grace though. I remember my friends asking me if I was depressed or something because I wasn’t going out like I used to. Little did they know, I was having the best time of my life. I was finally able to relax and actually enjoy my life…something I didn’t even think was possible without all the things I was made to believe would make me happy. What was the difference? How was God able to persuade me of this?
A Hell Of A Guy
Since I didn’t have much money at the time and no girlfriend, guess what I did have a lot of? Time. And that is exactly what is required in order to get to know somebody. So God started to reveal himself to me. He led me to teachers that would help me learn about Him. He led me to scriptures in the Bible that spoke specifically to what I needed to hear at the time. He led me to people who knew Him and could reveal His character to me. God was no longer something mystical to me anymore. He was real. He was alive. He was my friend who I came to know and trust.
As a result of my relationship with God, I no longer worried about what was going to happen to me. I was no longer consumed by striving to get things to impress people and earn respect. My focus was no longer on what I needed but on God and what He was doing to take care of me. It’s not that I didn’t care about people anymore; I just exalted God’s opinion up to a place that made what anybody else said irrelevant. I had to wait for some things that I really wanted and still have to be patient about some things, but there is no better way to wait for something then to not even be aware that you are waiting for it. Like they say, time flies when you’re having fun. I just started having fun again and enjoying life and before I knew it I had many of the things I was so consumed with before without even stressing about it.There is no better way to wait for something then to not even be aware you are waiting for it. Click To Tweet
Recovering Your Sight
As I talked about in the Belief Series, what you believe about God and yourself is where everything in your life will flow out of (Prov. 4:23)…so yeah that might be something you want to pay attention to. I’ll close with an analogy about the effect of the goodness of God and a few examples of scripture that will help you recover your sight about yourself.
I heard Arthur Meintjes give this analogy before and it helped me a lot. He said if the podium he was speaking behind was made of metal, would you agree that when you touch the podium you are also touching metal? It doesn’t matter if you were just out partying in Vegas all week or if you were on top of a mountain meditating like a monk. When you come into contact with the podium, you are then coming into contact with metal. The same sort of thing happens when you come into contact with God. Since He is good and only good, when you get in touch with God you get in touch with goodness regardless of where you have been and where you are coming from. This goodness will then rub off on you. Again, it’s an organic result of simply hanging out with God. When you see God for who He really is and hear what He believes about you, it causes your beliefs to line up with the way God created them to be, thus allowing you to “recover your sight”.When you get in touch with God you get in touch with goodness regardless of where you have been. Click To Tweet
Here are a few examples in scripture that you can dig into deeper if your heart desires:
- Gideon – In Judges Chapter 6 Gideon is down about himself and living in fear about the people who were oppressing him. Then an angel of the Lord comes and calls him a mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12). There is a way the world sees you and there is a way that God sees you. Gideon needed a lot of persuading, like myself and many of us do, but he was able to accomplish some mighty feats once God helped him recover his sight.
- Zaccheaus – In Luke 19 we see Jesus call a tax collector down from a tree and basically invite himself over to his house for dinner. In Jesus’ day, tax collector’s were despised. They were thought to be the worst of sinners. Also, in the Jewish culture, sitting down to eat with someone was no small thing. The world had a certain persuasion about Zaccheaus, but Jesus saw something different and He was able to change the way he thought about himself. We see the result of this fellowship very quickly that I’ll talk more about later in this series. But he was set free. Go read it in the meantime if you have a few minutes. It will bless you.
- Mephibosheth – I just call this guy M-dawg because I can never remember or pronounce his name. He was the son of David’s best friend Jonathan who he had a covenant relationship with. His name comes up in 2 Samuel Chapter 9 when David is asking if there is anybody from Saul’s household who he can show God’s kindness to. Mephibosheth was Saul’s grandson. He had become disabled at the age of 5. When David’s servants find him and bring him to David, he says “who am I that you would remember a dead dog like me?” But David responds to him like this in 2 Samuel 9:7:
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” #RecoveryOfSight #SetFree
Mephibosheth was entitled to this land through the covenant David made with Jonathan, yet he was living like a dog in Lo Debar. How many times do we do the same thing? We think of ourselves like dogs trying to get some scraps when God has called us to a seat at His table.
Well I think that’s enough to chew on for this week. Meditating on the truths of God’s goodness and His thoughts about you will set you free and put you in a position to move forward without all the heavy burdens weighing you down. Thanks for stopping by.