REAL PERSONAL FREEDOM
A close faithful relationship with God can
lead us to purpose and contentment in life.
And that offers us ‘real personal freedom’.
Now, you may recognise the guy, to the left, from the ‘homepage’ of this website. He asks the challenging question, “Should I care whether God exists?” And that is a question that once sat with me as well. That is, prior to what I refer to here as my audit of ‘Christian faith in action within everyday life’. (I am from a senior auditing background and the majority of my advisory team are Christian clergy. To glimpse the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
Firstly, this article follows on from, “Building sound faith” in this “Journey of faith” section. And it’s probably best if you do read it before this article. In summary, I maintain faith of that level – based on both the acceptance of essential Bible scriptures and ‘reasonable confidence in God’s existence‘ – can lead to the potential freedom in life that is the subject of this article.
And I try hard here, in this article, to explain the rewards available to anyone who has developed ‘sound Christian faith’ for themselves. So yes, I write that it is indeed a good idea to ‘care whether God exists!‘
The article, “Can I really believe in God?” gives directions, if needed, on how to reach that particular goal, i.e. ‘believing’.
2. GETTING A ‘HANDLE’ ON LIFE
Like me in my years as an atheist, you may have already recognised that the contentment in life which you had hoped for is largely unreachable! For a starter, ‘getting what we want, and getting it when we want it’, does not happen too often in life. And oh so often, as a result, our big objectives do go ‘pear-shaped’. We often find ourselves struggling, as a result …
Starting to sound familiar?
Even in my early days of faith, I found myself on a journey that offered a very different way of life. As a ‘baptised’ Christian, that included going to church, reading the Bible and trying to ‘engage with God‘ in my life. Strangely, it was no longer all about me. I was in fact ‘walking in the shadow’ of something far larger. And I came to realise that ‘I had some new responsibilities to meet’ as a result of my faith. Yet, I also found myself becoming … strangely I guessed at the time … contented. Somehow, my life was becoming to make sense; offer more positive outcomes. I mean ‘positive outcomes’ here for both me and others affected by my life.
Yes, I was actually getting a ‘handle’ on life.
3. FAITHFULNESS AND FREEDOM IN PERSPECTIVE
Look, even in its early days, faith can be empowering. Especially when it is compared to other life options! But there is much more on offer when we do deliberately engage with God through sound Christian faith.
During my early days of faith, mentioned above, I certainly came to find that I was largely freed from the bad habits and selfishness that had tended to drag me down in the past. And I certainly noticed a positive difference in my attitude towards life even at that stage.
But yes, there was much, much more to come my way!
3.1 ‘In sync’ with him
When we do come to ‘live in step’ with ‘sound faith‘ – trying very hard to both live ‘faithfully’ and follow God’s guidance in life – we are largely ‘in sync’ with him. And that is where it all really can ‘come together’ for us!
I eventually noticed so much more can be achieved through a life lived ‘in sync’ with the Lord! Initially these results surprised me. My ‘evaluation’ of Christian faith in action actually led to greater ‘spin-offs’ than I would have ever thought likely. I often use the term, “more of the same” when talking about God’s ‘grace‘ (more on that later) and its positive outcomes, as he applies it to our lives. And I was recognising it ‘more and more often’ in my faith journey and indeed my whole life.
So, yes again, I personally got used to it! And again I did come to find just how empowering faith can be! Mind you, we do need to understand that the road of faith, despite its rewards, will not be totally freed from ‘humps and bumps’. More about that later.
3.2 Finding ‘ourselves’
Importantly, we should learn how to follow the Lord’s ‘guidance‘ on our path through life. He knows every one of us: our personalities, our abilities, and our weaknesses I must add. Our needs, and those of other people close to us … even others in our communities … are also clearly known by him.
So, God knows each of us intimately, and has a plan for us as a result. A plan that is exactly suited to each one of us. Somehow … it also includes so many positive benefits for other folk (it’s never ‘just about us’, you see). And that plan, also referred to as ‘his will‘, CAN certainly lead us to a contented and purposeful life.
Just like me, you can come to find that God will be there to ‘guide you‘ in all the important areas of your life; to free you from the results of your own poor decision making. This includes the big issues/ challenges/ decisions/ responsibilities we will each face in life. And on the occasions you do follow that guidance he will then ‘assist you’ towards the best outcomes possible.
That term “assist you” refers to God’s gift of ‘providence’. Please read the article, “God’s helping hand” for an understanding. It is also a result of God’s deep love and goodwill for us, also termed “grace” (I used the term earlier). And I do refer to grace separately below.
If you are truly ‘in sync’ with him, then your life can become more ‘smooth’ and under control. This is faith’s top gear! And yes, this is about how you can actually find the ‘REAL YOU’. Please read the article, “Trusting God with your life” to get the big picture on that one.
Yes, I can assure you, this stuff really works!
3.3 Life in perspective through God’s grace
Finally, and without doubt, we practising Christians revel in the freedom flowing from God’s grace. His beautiful ‘grace!’ It becomes so very obvious through our ever deepening relationship with Jesus. As explained in “Building sound faith”, God in the ‘person of Jesus‘ painfully died for us: to pay for our life’s wrongdoing.
Yes, it looks a ‘tall order’ to accept that one, for a beginner Christian. But we do come to ‘get it’. If I could do it then you, the reader, surely can! So, Christianity’s basis is all about love. God loves us without limits. Grace really does help to place our lives in perspective.
And of course, as I so often state, “life is not just all about me!” There is a lot of satisfaction in looking back at what we have done to help others in need, for example.
It is actually hard to find words to clearly describe that relationship with the Lord, and his grace, well enough to do them justice. Or explain that love we can come to have for him. Please have a look at the article, “Christianity Explained” for a better understanding of our religion’s beauty.
3.4 Life’s meaning is clear
Most importantly, I found that my relationship with the Lord really had another ‘surprising’ result in my life. I now know, without doubt, it is indeed the reason for my existence; why I am actually here. Real meaning!
Again, it just becomes obvious to us as we come to ‘get it all together.’ It can free us, again making us ready to face most any challenge in life!
And for some ‘heavy stuff’ now! Although modern society tries to forget it, physical life will eventually come to an end for each and every one of us. We are told in the Bible that we Christians will then move on to eternal life: freedom from death itself. Now that is not a bad promise in itself eh?
Ultimately, that is where our personal relationships with the Lord will take us! And again yes, if ‘old auditor me’ could come to accept that, I am sure anyone can! If they are open minded and put in the ‘time and effort’ of course.
3.5 Reduced stress
I confidently write, if we do trust God; are faithful to him, then we can be freed from so much stress in life.
Like other faithful Christians, I found there was no need anymore to worry about things that might go wrong; be overly worried about making mistakes; or be fearful of anything really!
If you are bit of a ‘worry wart’ like me, then active faith can really reduce the average worries and woes that face you in everyday life. He will simply help you deal with them. Seriously!
It’s all about having faith and trust in him (again please read that article, “Trusting God with your life”). When you do fully trust him, then he is much more able to quietly work away in your favour. It just happens that way!
4. BUT NOT ALL ‘SMOOTH SAILING’
BUT! Again … yes … as I have already highlighted many times through this website, do not ‘get the idea’ that life will always be ‘smooth sailing’. God has made no such promise.
Firstly, from my experiences, there may well be hard work on the road ahead as you walk along with the Lord. Although on the other hand it may be strangely satisfying.
Remember too, life will definitely have its ups and downs, whether we have faith or not. Physical and emotional suffering will inevitably occur somewhere through life. Please see the article, “Suffering and Evil”.
And we can grow emotionally and spiritually as a result of our suffering in life. Now, you might find it a bit hard to accept that, depending upon your age and position in life at this stage. But I guess all us Christians do come to accept that as ‘truth’ as life passes by.
St Paul advised, in a letter within the Bible, that his readers should place suffering in perspective (Romans 8:18), “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.” He was discussing ‘relative’ short term pain in this life as a Christian, when compared to long term gain in Heaven. Hmmm, maybe ‘a bit heavy’ for the average reader?
But, yes, most of us are going to suffer somewhere in life … and it pays to put that into perspective. Christian faith really does help us there!
It is also very true to say that we will be better able to cope with life’s ‘hard knocks’, as a result of our faith, when they DO occur. This is because: although God may not prevent mishaps and pain occurring, he is always there to support us with his grace. We just have to ask for it.
Make no bones about it … he will be there! Please read the article, “God during hard times“.
Importantly, from my experiences in life, the more we are able to place self-discipline in our lives – become faithful Christians, and look to God’s expectations and so-called plans for us – then the closer and more loving our relationship with him grows. And the more ‘freedom’ we shall achieve as a result.
As implied already, I know that looks ‘paradoxical’? But from decades of using and evaluating faith in my own life, I personally know that it is true! It does not mean a boring life either. You should, for example, find yourself achieving goals in life that are satisfying; AND possibly outcomes you had not even thought about prior to coming to faith. There is certainly no longer any reason to try to keep up with the Joneses, or have to ‘suck up’ to anyone to get on in life.
(However, note again that this potential doesn’t relate to the kind of personal success that the media projects as desirable, e.g. ‘fame and fortune’. For example, we’re talking about ‘needs’ here rather than ‘wants’, if you ‘get the picture’.)
And again, from my experiences, there can be plenty of excitement along the way. It is all about ‘engaging’ with him in life; going for ‘faith’s top gear‘! If we are willing to get to that stage in life, God then becomes a glaringly obvious presence.
And yes, that even applies during those ‘hard times‘!