Galatians 5:1 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible: “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” The concept in this verse is one I have been trying to impart to the teens for several weeks. Freedom is not a hard concept for a teenager to understand. Many of them are just now being set free for the summer; free from spending all day in a classroom. Seventeen of them are feeling the freedom of graduating and making their own choices and decisions for the first time. Freedom is something we all hold dear, but it is oftentimes misunderstood.
As Christians, what have we been set free from? The latter part of Galatians 5:1 gives us a clue: “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Paul was, of course, speaking of the yoke of the old law, and warning early Christians that if they were going to add to the gospel and add pieces of the law to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then that sacrifice would lose its value for them. This is a warning that we should all take seriously today, and it is always good to remind one another that it is in Christ alone we find our salvation, and that our hope for salvation should never be in our own efforts or even in our own good works.
So, the concept of Christianity begins with freedom. But if you ask the people of the world what Christianity means or what it means to follow Christ, freedom is not one of the top answers they would give. And, sadly, it’s often not one of the top answers we as Christians would give. It’s easy to slip back into a list of rules because that is human nature. It’s easy to slip back into a checklist because we desire to earn a gift that has been freely given.
I challenge you, when you begin to share the gospel with a potential convert and you consider what verse or concept to start with, try using Galatians 5:1. We have a message of freedom from our human imperfection, and freedom from sin which so easily entangles. The message of Christ is the only true freedom to be found on earth, and as I tell my teens every week, this is a message worth sharing!