The most memorable and moving moment in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was when his character, William Wallace, was finally arrested and about to be beheaded, he shouts one final cry of resistance; Freeeeedom! (How many of you just did that in your head with a Scottish accent?).
Jesus said that he who the son sets free will be free indeed – which sounds great, but there are many varying ideas about what exactly it means to be free, and what it means to live in the freedom that Christ brings – and there’s one thing you really don’t want to get wrong.
Freedom is yes… and no.
The reason many people get confused by what God is giving them when he gave them freedom is that freedom is simultaneously yes and no. For example, we are free to choose whom we will marry, but once we exercise that freedom we can longer choose another partner – it’s first yes, then no.
The freedom we experience in marriage is offset by the restrictions that it places upon us. Freedom is being loosed from one thing only to be bound by another, we’re free from the law of sin and death and yet we are now bound to Christ and to the law of the spirit. We’re free from our brokenness yet it’s amazing that Jesus had bind us in order to heal us and set us free!
One of the greatest misconceptions about freedom is that it means being completely detached
How we got it defines how we use it
As much as I’d like to define freedom for myself and simply choose what I feel like freedom should be, freedom is a gift and it so one must refer to the giver for any parameters that come with such a gift. Again, like marriage, when my wife gave herself to me in marriage, the parameters were that I would love her exclusively as long as we both live.
God sets us free but his freedom has parameters or borders if you will. Like the rules in football or for driving on the road, borders keep you safe, they keep you from being injured, they keep the game active and enjoyable and everybody gets home alive. Which brings me to Psalm 44:1-2
O God we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted: you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free
We got here by no effort of our own, God and God alone worked Salvation for us and rescued us from slavery to sin, fear and death, by his own hand he drove darkness out of our hearts as he brought to us the light of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. He did it all. He set us free.
But right here in this amazing verse about the power of God to set us free is a little clue, a hint at the borders and parameters that God put in place when he provided us with freedom.
The great misconception: Being planted ≠ Being Free
Here is the one big thing that many people get wrong about freedom; being free the way God defines freedom also means being planted. Freedom is not being detached or unrestrained.
It’s being faithful in commitment and steadfast in love. Freedom is not when nothing ties you down, freedom is when you don’t need anything to tie you down because you have put your roots down and embraced being planted.
God plants those he sets free
We love to quote, he who the son sets free is free indeed – but what if it understood it to also mean, he who the son sets free is indeed planted.
5 Benefits of being planted
1. When you’re planted you will flourish
Plants that are continuously uprooted and replanted, uprooted and replanted, never reach their full potential. Their growth is always stunted, they are continuously having to reacclimatise in their new environment and well… put down roots.
Plants in pots never grow as big or as strong as those planted in the ground. Pot plants are mobile, on the move, never staying long in one place. They are easily picked up and put somewhere else. Like spiritual nomads are those who plant themselves in the pot and not the field. The nomadic, pick-up-and-leave, come-and-go when-ever-I-want-to kind of life is a deceptive form of freedom because the pot they’re planted in, their source of supposed freedom, becomes the very thing that limits them. They cannot grow beyond the limitations of the pot. Their life then is not free but restrained, confined and bound.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God. (Psalm 92:12-13)
When you are planted, you are planted in the house of God, in a local church in a town, city or suburb. This being planted provides constant nourishment, protection, leadership, enlargement, support and strength.
Some find loyalty to a single local church restrictive to their freedom, but only because they’ve not understood that freedom is always yes, then no. Those who commit to being planted will always flourish and those who flourish are always planted.
2. The planted will be constantly encouraged
The beauty of being planted in a local congregation and committing to have long term fellowship is that encouragement becomes a river that always flows into your life.
The more you are planted the more people know you, the more they are able to discern how to serve you, bless you and love you.
The longer you are planted the more your heart is entwined with those planted around you, under the surface your roots begin to mingle and cross over – you begin to carry people in your heart and in turn, they carry you in theirs.
Those who are planted benefit from the cross-pollination of gifts and strengths within the church so that their hearts are never lacking courage.
To be a Christian and not be planted is to cut yourself off from a stream of encouragement that can only come from the tension and fellowship of commitment to other believers.
Some like to think they can do without such relationships and loyalty, God’s Word seems to think otherwise.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25)
3. The planted will be fruitful
It’s hard enough to grow fruit at the best of times. We had a passionfruit vine that we planted and for years nothing ever grew on it. I was fed up and thought to myself, I’m going to pull that thing out of the ground – it’s useless.
Shortly after this, about 3 years after we planted it, it began to grow like crazy! It spread out 6 meters to the left and 6 meters to the right along our fence and before we knew it we were up to our eyeballs in passionfruit.
It may not have had fruit for years, but if I had not left it planted it would never have had any fruit ever
As it turns out, patience was the key. We had to wait. Those who commit themselves to being planted will indeed be fruitful in life. It’s a principal of the Kingdom of God, those who are planted, given enough time, will indeed be fruitful.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
4. The planted really are the ones who are free
When Jesus turned up and began his ministry, the first thing he wanted to do was read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Well known to many, he unrolled the scroll and began to read from Isaiah 61.
It’s here that Jesus declares his mission and his vision, it was his big Vision Sunday! (although more likely a Saturday).
He began to speak of binding up the broken hearted, of setting people free from oppression and slavery to sin, He spoke of the favour of God being released over humanity and comfort for all who mourn – beauty for ashes and praise instead of despair!
He was announcing what he was about to achieve and as he did he finished with the incredible statement, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
What’s incredible is that Jesus then describes the kind of person who would receive his work and ministry.
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified
Those who have received his gift of salvation and freedom are those who have been planted by the Lord! Those who are planted are actually those who are free!
Those who are married have more freedom in a relationship than those who aren’t. Those who play by the rules will have more fun playing football than those who break the rules and get sent off the field.
Those who say yes to freedom also say no to being uprooted and disconnected. What looks to man as freedom (being unattached, not tied down, no roots, not commitment) is nothing more than disloyalty and a lack of understanding of the glorious freedom we have in and through Christ. The freedom of being planted.
5. The planted will indeed glorify Christ
All the binding up, the opening of prison doors, the setting captives free, the healing and the comfort and the provision and the favour can be summarised in one powerful statement that we just looked at above;
Jesus wants you to be planted that he may be glorified
Jesus wants to call you an Oak of righteousness. Oak trees grow slowly and constantly. They grow tall and they grow strong. They also grow, as obvious as it may seem, in the place they are planted. Don’t get discouraged by seeing someone live an unattached life. Don’t envy their path. It’s not the freedom your soul yearns for. Being planted is.
God did not create you for life on the road, He created you for life in the field. A planted life. A life that has roots. A life that receives a constant flow of encouragement that in turn becomes a life that overflows with encouragement towards others.
A life that, given time, will be incredibly fruitful and a blessing to those planted near by. A life that defies the world’s definitions of freedom with a far more superior definition, it’s the life of freedom that is found in being planted, a life that will flourish, be fruitful and will result in glory to God. That’s a life well lived.
A life of ‘yes’ to God is a planted life that stands firm and feels the breeze of His Spirit blowing gently on it’s face, whereas a life that is uprooted and always on the move is nothing more than a chasing of the wind. Thank God He has called us to live free. To live a planted life in his Son and in His House.
What else do you think people get wrong when it comes to freedom?