Before I came into a relationship with Jesus Christ, there was a point in my life that I wanted to be a good person. In fact, I desired to become a good person for several reasons, such as, I felt sick about how I didn’t care for others, I wanted to be respected in the community, I wanted my wife to have a good husband, and I wanted to be different so that my children would not behave as I did. What I found was that while I tried to do these things, I could not achieve peace with myself about the results. Now the results were not simply centered around right actions; they also included right thoughts along with right actions. I soon found that I could not become the person I wanted to be.
After a few years of trying to be different, I decided to try God. I thought that if I got saved that somehow that would establish me as the person that I longed to be. I decided to read the Bible, mostly because I didn’t know many Christians who would help me and from my experience I did not want to be associated with them. As I read, I found that God had an entirely different plan for, not just my life, humanity as whole. This knowledge enlightened me to the point that it became about desiring to know this God of the Bible instead of simply being saved.
Many people who are not associated with a community of believers realize that there is something missing in their lives as I did. The problem is that God has outlined what is best for us in the Bible, but we generally do not find out for ourselves. Instead, we rely on other Christians to tell us spiritual things that will make us feel better. The problem is that most Evangelical Christians get stuck at the point of belief. What I mean is that most simply point out that believing is what God does to make you and I saved. Then the problem becomes that you and I, who have not been associated with church, find that we are still the same persons we were before getting saved.
Finding out that nothing has changed, both internally and externally, becomes troubling to those of us who have not been properly pointed to Christ. After all, Evangelicals simply believe that we should get saved to avoid hell and to be ready for when we die or Jesus Returns. This type of believing causes many of us who are giving church and Jesus a try to give up. We learn quickly that simply believing has not helped us in this life now. We are still in bondage to our poor attitudes and behaviors. Yet, those of us who will turn to the Bible can learn that Jesus wants humanity to believe toward freedom.
Believing toward freedom, means to me, now that we believe in Jesus Christ and received Him as our Savior, what does that demand that we do? Think about; the Bible is full of God’s plan for His people and continually communicating the importance of being different. This is where much of our problem occurs. God wants us to be different from who we were before we established a relationship with Jesus. Yet, we Evangelicals continue to be reluctant to tell those outside of the Kingdom, along with those who are new in the Kingdom, that God expects our belief in Jesus to bring us into freedom. Freedom is being free from the internal and external issues that troubled us in the first place, which is why we investigated who Jesus Christ is.
God wants us to do more than simply believe in Jesus. He wants us to become more like Jesus. In fact, if we don’t and simply are satisfied to just believe, then are we really saved? These are questions that are age-old, but these may need to be wrestled with again in the Evangelical circles. Consider the Fruits of the Spirit, these are those characteristics that I longed to have but could not on my own. Why? Because Jesus was not involved in the change. In fact, simply just believing in Jesus can also lead to Jesus being uninvolved in our character reconstruction. The Fruits represent the freedom to be who, I and Jesus, desire me to be.
This is what I call believing toward freedom. Freedom means that I am not locked into the hatred, jealousy, pride, and anger I felt all of time anymore. So if you are someone who believes in Jesus, but you are not free to love God and others that would demonstrate that you are becoming more like Jesus, then you may not really be saved. My Jesus came to set the captives free.
Here’s what you need to do. Seek Him with all of your heart. In other words, you have to desire Him for more than just avoiding hell. You need to seek Him while surrendering yourself to Him so that He has the freedom mold and shape you into someone He wants you to be; this better than the person you tried to become without Him. Pray to Him regularly. Read His Word regularly. Meditate on Him and His Word regularly. Incorporate His commands into your new lifestyle. Don’t give up. If you surrender you life in these ways, then you will have the freedom be the person that loves God and others.
We need Christians to start teaching lifestyle change instead of lifestyle acceptance. We need Christians to teach lifestyle change now instead wait until later change. The Church needs people who model this change in a positive light instead of an unhappy negative light. Believing toward freedom makes more sense than simply believe and you will be saved. So what are you going to do about it? Believe toward freedom.