Freedom in Christ is found when we understand who He is and who we are in Him.
To have freedom in Christ, we must first understand who Christ is and then know who we are in relationship to Him.
Understand who Christ is.
Christ is Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior.
He is the only begotten Son of God and He Himself is God. He is the Good Shepherd. He died for us so that our sins can be forgiven and we can live in Heaven with Him.
That sounds fairly simple, yet it is an amazing reality to comprehend! We must not only understand this in our minds, but in our hearts as well.
Acts 13: 38-39 tells us this about Jesus: “You must realize, my brothers, that it is through him that the forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, including the remission of all those charges you could never be acquitted of under the law of Moses. In him, every believer is acquitted.”
Jesus, the Son of God who Himself is God, loves each of us so much that He willingly died for us so we can be “acquitted” and therefore free of sin. This is who Jesus is.
To read about Jesus our Good Shepherd, see Ezekiel 34: 8-16, Psalm 23, and Luke 15:3-7. To read the core of what we believe as Catholic Christians, see The Apostles’ Creed. To read more about who Jesus is, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican website.
Understand who you are in Christ.
The next part in understanding your freedom in Christ is to realize who you are in Christ.
Christ died for us to set us free from sin so we are not bound by the chains of sin that keep us away from Him and interfere with our understanding of His love for us. The bonds of sin can also keep us back from following our true path in life.
Jesus, our God, loves us so much that He died for each one of us. This is how precious you are to Him.
This can be difficult for some people to accept. Jesus, our God, died for me? Yes, He died for you. Really? Yes, Jesus really does love YOU that much.
If you are having difficulty understanding or accepting God’s love in your heart, pray for God’s help. Read your Bible. Go to Mass more often. Talk with a priest. Talk with God as if He is sitting right beside you (for He is that close to you). He will help you to understand His love for you and to accept it. God does not turn away from those who seek Him.
If you want to read your Bible more and don’t know where to start, Creating a Simple Bible Reading Plan can help. To read more about taking to heart the reality of Christ’s love for you, see Accepting my Identity as a Child of God.
Exercise your freedom in Christ.
Christ died so we can be free from sin, but how do we live our lives this way?
Even though God gives each person different talents and gifts to use in living out their vocation, there are some ways that everyone can use to live out the freedom that Christ gives to us.
Follow the two great Commandments.
In Matthew 22:37 and 22:39, Jesus tells us the greatest the two commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, how does this relate to freedom in Christ?
In Galatians 5:13-15, St. Paul gives us insight into the answer: “My brothers, remember that you have been called to live in freedom–but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh. Out of love, place yourself at one another’s service. The whole law has found its fulfillment in one saying: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you go on biting and tearing one another to pieces, take care! You will end up in mutual destruction!”
This is how we are to live out these two commandments: by lovingly putting ourselves at the service of God and others.
As a mom, this means lovingly serving the needs of your family. It does not mean to only take care of your family, but to do so with a loving heart and attitude. God is love. When we show love and care for others, we show the love of God for others as well. Remember that you are part of your family, so you need to take care of your own needs, too.
If you struggle with making the time to take care of yourself as well as the needs of your family, see 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself.
Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit.
St. Paul then tells us in Galatians 5:22 that “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity.”
We cultivate these fruits in our hearts by our actions when we follow the two great commandments Jesus gave to us.
God did give us free will: we are free to choose how we will live. We can choose to live by His commandments and live in His love, or we can turn away from His gifts and live a life only for ourselves. Jesus loves us so much; He does not want for us to be robots who follow Him blindly, but people who chose to love Him freely and follow Him on purpose.
We have true freedom to act as children of God, children who act out of love, kindness, and generosity instead of selfishness. Since Jesus freed us from the bonds sin, we can focus better on living according to His ways, living as true brothers and sisters in God without sin holding us back. The more we do this, the easier it becomes.
Receive the Sacraments.
Jesus gave us seven gifts when He gave us the Sacraments to help us to live our lives united with Him. The seven Sacraments Christ instituted while He was on earth are to help us keep our lives focused on Him and give us the graces we need to live out our lives with faith.
The Mass itself is a great prayer. God speaks to us through His word in the Bible and we receive Jesus–body, blood, soul, and divinity–in Holy Communion.
What greater place do we have to meet our Lord than in the Sacraments and in prayer?
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 17 Paul tells us to “Never cease praying.” He also says to “Rejoice always” (5:16) and to “render constant thanks.” (5:18a)
So, how do we rejoice always, never cease praying, and render constant thanks to God? Part of this we do with our actions and another part we do with our attitude.
By our actions, we can pray, rejoice, and say, “Thank you” to God. Say grace before meals; say thank you to someone who helped you. Smile at someone. Chose to be joyful instead of angry. Chose to be greatful for the good instead of focusing on negative possibilities.
We set a good example for our family and others when we show by our words and actions that we have a joyful heart. We also show God that we are aware of Him and thankful for His goodness in our lives.
Our attitude can also be called our perspective or our outlook.
Do I instantly get angry about things instead of taking a step back and evaluating things with a better perspective? Do I think negatively about others instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt? Do I thank God for the good He has done for me or do I just ask for more and more and more or do I grumble about what I do have?
Our actions are born out of our attitudes, so we need to monitor our attitudes and be careful about which ones we allow to grow. Cultivate good attitudes towards God, towards others, and about ourselves as well. Remember: we are all children of God and we need to treat each other and ourselves with love.
We have freedom in Christ to live as He wants for us to live.
Jesus died so we may be free from sin. We can choose to live this freedom by following Jesus’ two great commandments and cultivation the gifts of the Spirit within us, through prayer, and through guarding our actions and attitudes each day. Or, we can choose to turn away from Christ’s gift of freedom.
We make this choice every day.
To read more on the topic of freedom in Christ, you may enjoy the article by Bishop Samuel J. Aquilla called “Freedom is to choose Jesus Christ and to follow His ways” at the Catholic News Agency.