What It Means to Live Free

How my 3-year-old nephew helped teach me a spiritual truth about freedom.

  • by Katie Croft

My nephew and I were sitting on the cement steps outside my parents’ home talking about life and birthdays.  

Cyrus had begun to comprehend what a birthday is and was anxiously waiting the next day when family and presents were certain to arrive.

Curious to see how his young mind worked, I asked, “Cyrus, how old are you today?”

“Two,” he answered, proudly holding up his pointer and middle fingers.

“And how old will you be tomorrow?”

“Freee!” he squealed. A wide smile stretched across his freckled face as he worked to add a third finger to his small-outstretched hand.

“Wow. You are getting so big!” I replied. “How old will you be the next day?”

“Two.” He replied matter-of-factly as he lowered his third finger again.

I find myself applying Cyrus’ faulty line of thinking to my Christian life. I revert to living on what used to be true about me rather than experiencing the freedom that is in front of me.

Spiritually speaking, I once was dead. I had no hope. I was enslaved by sin.

But God stepped in. Because of the finished work on the cross, my identity, life and future have dramatically changed.

The Book of Ephesians lists many of the blessings I inherited when I became a child of God almost 25 years ago. I am:

  • alive though I was once dead in my sin.
  • blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
  • chosen.
  • adopted.
  • forgiven.
  • free.

My freedom is positional, unchanging. Because of who Jesus is, I am free.

And the actions of freedom are mine to embrace. But I, like Cyrus, often live in yesterday. Turning back to familiar legalistic spiritual rules, rather than embracing the freedom I have been given in Christ, I live as an outsider. I live with rules and expectations from which my Savior has already set me free. 

In Galatians 5:1, I read, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

As our country turns our attention to freedom this Independence Day, take time to think through the answers to the following questions. It just may unleash a fresh wave of freedom in your heart and life.

  1. What does freedom in Christ look like in my life?
  2. Where am I living in spiritual freedom?
  3. Where am I enslaving myself like the Galatians, who, after receiving the gospel, returned to religious traditions and circumcision?
  4. What do I do out of habit, tradition or comfort in order to please other peoples’ ideas of freedom but, in fact, negates the true freedom that I have in Christ?

I told my nephew that day how birthdays really work, that the numbers continue to add as years go by. They are never taken away.

Tomorrow, I agreed, he would be 3. In time, he would be 4. 

His eyes grew wide with wonder. The world as he knew it shifted and a different kind of smile emerged on his face.