Recently my husband’s sister had to be hospitalized for an infection in her leg. She then had to go into rehab for several weeks.
She has two parakeets, which needed care. So every four days we would go to her apartment to take care of the birds. On one of those occasions one of the birds escaped from the cage. Oh, what a fiasco!!
After we had recaptured the bird, and it was safely in the cage, we commented that there had to be a biblical illustration somewhere in the incident, and sure enough, there was!
I believe God is daily seeking our attention, desiring us to focus on Him, not our circumstances, the past, or even the future. He wants us to find our freedom in Him alone!
At the time of the bird incident, we all became singly focused: bird calling, making bird noises, whistling, flashlight movements, searching high and low - quite a sight if you had been watching! Not finding the bird and being frustrated, we sat quietly on the edge of the bed just listening for any noise the bird might make. Soon the bird began to chirp and fly around. Then we were able to capture it and put it safely into the cage.
The bird had obviously enjoyed her freedom - flying here and there, being free. But out of the cage the bird had no food or water and would have ultimately died.
So the question is: how is the bird like us?
She wanted freedom! All of us do. We do not want to be physically restricted, imprisoned, enslaved, hindered, or dominated. “Give us freedom, or give us death,” as Patrick Henry once said. However, with freedom comes responsibility and accountability and sometimes, even death! Freedom always costs something; it is not free! Our freedom in Christ cost Jesus His life. It cost Him unbelievable humiliation, mockery, and the unfathomable carrying of our sin and the world’s sin from the beginning of time.
Freedom in Christ is very different from the freedom the world wants to give us. The world says freedom has no rules; it has no boundaries. Do what you like when you like. It is all about what makes one feel good. Freedom has no right or wrong.
The freedom God wants to give us is very different. It cost Him dearly – His only Son! When we accept Jesus into our lives, He gives us a godly freedom, and with that freedom comes responsibility and accountability. That responsibility and accountability is not about God squelching or imprisoning us. It is about protecting us from sin and evil.
What then does freedom in Christ look like?
Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way: “Whatever you yield to becomes your master. Before you were saved, you were the slave of sin. Now you belong to Christ; you are freed from that old slavery and made the servant of Christ.” Paul tells us in Romans 6:19-23, “in human terms, because of the weakness of our flesh, we once presented our members or (body) as slaves to impurity, sin, and lawlessness, which leads to more lawlessness; so now present your body as slaves to righteousness, leading to sanctification (being set apart). For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification (being set apart) and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I have a quote written in my Bible that states, “We are not just saved from something; we are saved to something.” The power of the Holy Spirit helps us to put to death the sin that still wants to express itself in our lives. Before we came to Christ, sin had a chokehold on our lives, but through the death and resurrection of Christ, we gain power to live for Christ and His glory. This is freedom, true freedom - freedom without condemnation! Paul could not imagine why anyone who genuinely loves Jesus would want to live for the very sins that cost Jesus his life. Dr. Stanley puts it another way: “How could any real believer glory in what God abhors?”
The bird thought it was experiencing freedom, flying here and there, but it wasn’t true freedom. That freedom looked pretty good until it realized it had no one to feed, water, and care for it.
Freedom without God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is not freedom at all. The world’s ‘freedom’ only brings death and destruction.
1 Peter 2:16 says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To be as free as a bird, one must be abiding in the hands of the Almighty!