In the summer of 2018, a youth soccer team from Thailand were trapped in a cave complex in the northern part of the country. Monsoon rains had inundated the area where they were exploring deep within the labyrinth, and the rising floodwaters cut off their exit. For eighteen days these twelve young men and their coach were entombed without food and with only a trickle of drinkable water dripping off a rock. But just when they probably thought that all was lost and they were sure to die, a Thai Navy SEAL rescue team broke through the water in their underground prison. Can you imagine what these boys felt? “We’ve been found!” At first, some were in disbelief. But you can almost feel the hope rising in their hearts as they learned that a full-scale rescue effort was underway. Probably no one can fully comprehend the celebration and freedom each one experienced, another eight days later, as they all were led by divers through the treacherous five miles of underwater passageways and then broke free out of the dark, muddy waters into the fresh air.
Our salvation story is much like the story of these kids. Although we were not in a cave, as rebels against God we were hopelessly trapped and doomed to die in our sins. Like the boys exploring the cavern, we felt safe for a while. But in time we found out we actually were in terrible spiritual danger. Lost and in despair, we cried out for mercy and salvation. Like the SEALS rescuing these young men, God came at just the right time and, by His grace, delivered us. And finally, just as the soccer team felt overwhelming joy at their deliverance, so should we feel even more joy and thankfulness that God has given new life in Jesus. Jesus gave His life to set His people free.
The following verses of Scripture speak about the freedom that God gives to those who repent and believe in Jesus, the Son of God. A few moments of reflection will lift your spirits and fuel hope in your hearts.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners (Isaiah 61:1).
And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:32).
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2).
“Thank You, Lord, for freedom!”
If we could only constantly walk in this freedom. When we hunger and thirst for others to do what we want, like we want, and when we want, our relationships can seem empty, or at least unfulfilling. If we’re not downright unhappy, we still can be left with the sense that “there should be more.” Most of us have experienced this kind of dissatisfaction with relationships which often results in tormenting bondage to discontentment and anger. One of the purposes of Live to Love is to encourage you that it is possible to experience freedom from these things in at least two wonderful ways. First, the gospel of Jesus can free you from many things that have stunted your spiritual growth and damaged your witness for Christ. Second, it can bring you into the freedom to manifest the life and love of Christ that Jesus and the writers of Scripture declared, as in the verses above, and that you may have seen in other believers. When we turn to the Lord, seek His face, and turn from our unbelief and idolatry, we are responding to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. The result of these acts is that increasingly, Jesus truly becomes our Lord instead of other people and life’s circumstances ruling in our lives. This continuous work of repentance—conviction, contrition, confession of sin, conversion, and confession of Christ as Lord over various areas of our lives—liberates us from the instability and fears that can hinder, corrupt, or even destroy our relationships when we base our lives on what others think and expect of us, or provide for us, instead of on Jesus.
It’s a wonderful thing to experience Jesus’ freedom in our lives as we live to love with Him. As I listened to the testimonies of some who have finished the discipleship series of Live to Love, many mentioned the freedom they had experienced in living to love with Jesus. In Chapter 14 of my book, you can see how you can experience freedom from fear, pride, unbelief, idolatry, bitter jealousy, insecurity, frustration, impatience, lust, guilt, and condemnation. Would you like to grow in your freedom in Christ? You can! Rethink what you live for, and seek to know and love Jesus by living to love with Him. The Live to Love book and video series are available at www.livetolovewithjesus.com as gifts of love from those who have been impacted by the book. I hope you will join those who have been swept up in the tsunami of God’s love.