Freedom is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. This means that his mission is to bring liberty, liberation from all forms of bondage. In Luke, Chapter Four, he lists the job description the Holy Spirit anoints him to fulfill:
To Preach good news to the poor
To set free the prisoners
The recovery of sight to the blind
Release of the oppressed
To declare the year of the Lord’s favor.
The heart of the human problem is bondage—bondage to things beyond our control: First of all, sin and its power over us. This implies also addictions of all sorts, radical selfishness that insists, “Let my will be done,” false ideas that control our thinking, and oppressive forces greater than ourselves. We can think of tyranny of every kind, particularly on the personal level: sin, temptation, moral failure, chronic guilt, gnawing regret, wasted life.
Imagine yourself asking someone on the street, “Do you want to be free from sin?”, they might answer something like this, “Well, not until I’m done having a good time!”, or, “It’s irrelevant to me, sin and all that sort of thing isn’t part of my thinking.”
Honestly, I don’t think that most Christians even understand, or could define very well, what sin and its power over us actually is. To make all this clearer, we might simply change the language a bit. Rather than use traditional theological terms such as “original sin,” we could refer to it as the “original disorder,” the greatest and worst, because it’s the one that spawns all the other disorders: spiritual, physical, or mental.
Jesus was sinless, and, therefore, without disorders, as we shall one day be. But as long as we dwell on this present earth, we will experience a variety of disorders.
We’re used to saying things like, “That person over there has this or that disorder.” And it might be true, but that means only that the disorder is just one manifestation of the basic one that we all share. It’s also likely that each of us has a number disorders as well. That’s what it means to live in a fallen world. To put it simply, there is no one among us who is not disordered, to one degree or another.
But in today’s society, we do everything to pretend that no one has a disorder. Now, everyone is “perfectly normal,” regardless of their problems. The world stumbles over itself trying to normalize everything that used to be considered an illness, things that were at one time squarely in the psychiatric textbooks. One by one, everything is becoming okay, mainstream, absolutely acceptable, no matter how far-fetched or bizarre.
So what does freedom in Christ mean? Simply, it means not regarding disorders as wonderful expressions of our uniqueness, but as a path of deliverance, of rescues from every form of sin’s destructive outworking. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that God finds us “dead” in sin, but by his mercy and grace makes us alive in Christ. He does it. We don’t.
This means that as we draw, day by day, from his life and power, the nagging disorders drop off, one at time (or, we’re given the power to overcome them), and, over time, we become more healthy and whole people. We don’t have to pretend anymore. We can begin anew and fresh every morning. It means that through repentance and forgiveness God erases every bad decision, mistake, stupid move, weird inclination, failure, sinful act or word, and every misspent life.
Thanks be to God for sending his Son, not only as the Great Physician, but also the Great Psychiatrist (soul doctor), who is able to diagnose us with absolute accuracy, and who is able to apply the only treatment that works.