It’s really easy for me to forget what freedom in Christ looks like. I don’t know about you, but I have an uncanny ability to get lost in the moment and lose perspective of reality. It always seems like the problems I face right now are insurmountable, with each new trial eclipsing the challenges of the one that came before it. All the while, I know in my head the glorious reality of the freedom I have in Christ, yet still wonder in my heart what that really looks like in the daily rhythms of life. I think it’s really easy to settle for a simplified, sanitized, culturally acceptable version of freedom in Christ. To be completely honest, I think many Christians in the United States have a greater grasp of their national freedom than their spiritual freedom.
In Mark’s Gospel, he records an event that demonstrates this incredible freedom found in Christ. In chapter five, Jesus and His small band of followers have just reached the country of the Gerasenes after crossing the sea by boat. The moment Jesus steps ashore, we read that a man immediately meets them from out of the tombs. But not just any ordinary man — this man has an unclean spirit.
If there was ever a picture of what it looks like to not be free, it has to be this man. The text pretty much describes him as a crazy lunatic. He is seen running naked around the mountains and among the tombs, cutting himself with rocks, and living in solitude. His behavior is so disturbing that the locals try to restrain him, but they can’t even bind him with chains for fear he would tear them to pieces.
But then Jesus steps into the scene, and this man comes running. He falls down at His feet, crying out, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7). Through a pretty crazy series of events, Jesus drives the unclean spirits (for there are many) out of the man and into a herd of pigs, which then rush down a steep bank into the sea and drown. Talk about a day!
When the pig farmers see what happens to their herd, they are terrified and run into town to tell everyone what has taken place. The people come out to see if the claim is true and there, sitting at Jesus’ feet, is the crazy man; only he isn’t so crazy anymore. Instead of running around gnawing on rocks and cutting himself like before, he calmly sits fully clothed before Jesus. His mind is now clear. The crowd cannot believe what they are seeing. In fact, they are so afraid they ask Jesus to leave.
I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been in that crowd. Would I have glorified God, or would I have been overcome with fear? When we think of freedom in Christ, we often settle for something small. But as this story demonstrates, the freedom Christ provides is radical. It is a life-altering freedom.
Now, I fully recognize there is a difference between the demon- possessed dude in this story and the average person reading this article. For starters, you probably aren’t possessed by a demon, and that alone is a pretty substantial difference. However, like him you are a sinner, which is something you probably overlook. You may not be cutting yourself with rocks and breaking chains off your wrist, but you are bent toward rebellion. In fact, we all are.
And just as Christ came to set the man with an unclean spirit free in Mark 5, He also desires to set us free from the bondage of our sin. The same radical freedom that cast a legion of demons out of that one man is available to you, even now. And to those who have trusted in Christ and experienced this amazing freedom before, would you now walk in it? Imagine the liberating feeling that comes from knowing the God who created all things is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!
If you have placed your trust in Christ’s work on your behalf, then you are truly free. Not just a little bit free, but completely free. So let us join with the man from Mark 5, who upon experiencing this amazing freedom “went away and began to proclaim…how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled” (Mark 5:20). Go, and proclaim that Christ has set you free!