Why Do We Do What We Do?

Jesus came to a people who had been in bondage for many generations. No one who heard his message had ever tasted real freedom. The people's lack of ability to follow God's law throughout the years had led them into bondage. When Jesus starts his ministry, Rome has Israel under its thumb...and it isn't about to let go. I suspect that there were many different ways of thinking he came against when he spoke.

For starters, people tend to get comfortable in their bondage. I can confirm this. I was in bondage to my past, for so long that it became comfortable.  When I first began experiencing God's healing and deliverance, I didn't know exactly what to do with myself. My bondage had been my shield for so long that I felt exposed, I was exposed, without it. I think many who heard Jesus were having this same struggle. Life had become routine for these people. They had relented to the bondage they were under and they had learned how to live with it. No one spoke anymore of freedom or deliverance. There had been no prophet for over 400 years. Bondage was all they knew. Many times, we hear the message of Christ, but we don't want to let go of the bondage we have lived with for so long. We hear him saying, "I will set you free," but we are too worried about what that will look like to even consider letting go of the bondage. For me, the bondage was bitterness, fear, very deep pain, memories...all chains that kept me wrapped up tight. I was comfortable with it all...but then I got a tiny taste of what was available...

and suddenly I wasn't so comfortable. 

We see people who had this same revelation in Jesus' ministry. Mary, the prostitute is an example of someone who had lived in bondage forever, but got a taste of freedom, and never looked back. The Roman Centurion, who asked Jesus to just speak the word so his servant would be healed. He was a Roman, full of roman blood, roman thinking and roman ways, but he tasted freedom....and never looked back. Many people chose to walk away from their bondage and be free. For every person who did, though, there were many that didn't. 

Religious People.

The only time Jesus gets angry, is when he speaks to the religious leaders of Israel. He condemns them many times for their wayward thinking, even calling them a brood of snakes at one point. These people were caught up in religion. God never intended for his law to become religion...but it did. It did because man is selfish and fickle. I know beyond any doubt that God is not religious because I see so clearly in his word that it is the heart of man he yearns to hold. Religion is blinding, though. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 15:14 that these men are blind guides, leading blind men. They won't listen to the truth coming from the very mouth of God, because they are caught up in tradition. They are caught up in their man made law. I was caught up in religion at one point. I wanted so desperately to feel worthy and loved that I thought if I followed a bunch of rules, I would feel what I longed to feel. God's word bounced off my heart, never penetrating to my core. I couldn't see or hear the truth of his love and acceptance because I was so worried about making him angry. The same thing was happening in Israel during Jesus' ministry. The people have been blindly following blind guides for so long that they don't even know the truth anymore. They know the man made traditions, the laws that they can never fulfill, the men who parade themselves around as spiritual leaders, but they no longer recognize truth.

There was one man who caught the truth, though. The man with the tomb. Yes, the man who gave his tomb for the burial of Jesus was a man named Joseph and he was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a wealthy man of great influence. He obviously knew the law - probably every detail of it. He must have known that Jesus was who he said he. He must have recognized Jesus as the prophecy fulfilled. Why else would he have given his tomb to this man? Why else? This must mean that even those who have allowed ritual and ceremony to be their comfort, can be set free.

Jesus was no superstar. He was not glamorous, he was not what was expected. He seemed ordinary. He seemed like everyone else...expect for his words. He spoke things that had never been spoken. He asked things that had never been asked. He spoke of a greater calling, a greater purpose, a greater relationship. He spoke all of these things...and some listened.

Other's didn't.

It is no different today, friends. We live under the weight of all the same junk that they did, then. We have the same struggles, the same things bind us up that bound them up. It's important to remember that what Jesus says, the way he speaks, it's relevant to us today. When he says, "those who I set free are free," he means it. Truth has not wavered, it has not changed. The struggle to embrace truth has not changed either. We fight the comfort of this wayward world, just like they did, then. We fight the ritual and ceremony so easily available to us, just like they did, then.

Don't you see? You are not just destined to live with your list of failures, your past, your secrets. It's not just "the way it is." No, Jesus changes the way it is. Right in the middle of your everyday, your habits, your constant thoughts, everything your used too...he walks in and changes it all. Don't you see? Ceremony will never free your heart from the chains that bind you. Jesus did not come to make the impossible even more impossible. Jesus came to fulfill that law that we could never fulfill so that we could walk right into that place that was off limits, the very room in Heaven where the God of the universe resides. Jesus brought completion to the law so that you and I could walk into God's presence with no fear, and find rest. I shudder, to think that I could just as easily have stayed where I was, in the comfort of my past and my religion. I could have heard the whisper of God's spirit, the words of those who he placed in front of me...and I could have remained where I was.

But I didn't.

It's not all high ideals and emotion, either. There are practical steps we all have to take to walk away from what binds us. Jesus always said, to those he freed, "go and sin no more." In other words, "go and change the way you live." The freedom he brings to us is very much a spiritual thing, but it filters out from there into our physical and if we don't take those steps, the transformation cannot be completed...

First, you have to own it. By own it, I mean admit it. We all have to admit to whatever is holding us back. Whether you need to own your own mistakes, or own the pain you carry from a past full of sorrow, you have to admit to the pain, the failure, the anger...the whatever. Jesus only works in a place of honesty.  There can be no pretending, no skirting the issues. It's not an issue of his love for you. He loves you, even in your weakness and that won't change. But, for him to work a miracle in your heart, to free you, honesty is required.

Second, you have to wage war against the fear. When you decide to be honest about all of it, fear will come knocking, no beating, at your door. You will have to make a choice then: to fight it or give in to it. Let me just tell you, you can beat it. Fear does not have to win. Remember, you don't fight alone. Jesus is a fierce warrior and he will fight for you when you can't do it. Don't be afraid.

Third, you have to start asking why. You have to face each day with new awareness. What habits, what thoughts do you allow in your life that are a result of "the way it's always been"? Why have you allowed that? There is a motive behind everything we say and do. Walking in freedom means observing our own minds and hearts daily and asking ourselves why we do what we do. Jesus wasn't a "do it because I said so" guy. He never minds explaining himself. He wants us to have wisdom and understanding. He wants us to be aware of whats going on in our own mind and heart. Asking why is the first step to having understanding.

Fourth, don't forget the spirit inside of you. All of these steps we take to walk in freedom, they all come back around to the spirit of God at work in us. If you are not feeding your soul with God's word, with daily conversation with him, then your spirit will begin to weaken. The physical and spiritual work together. If we are not allowing God's spirit to strengthen inside of us, our physical man will fail us. Be strong in his spirit and he will help you walk the road of freedom.

There is no need to be a slave to sin, to the past that has hurt you. Jesus calls you to be free. It's up to us to stay the way we are, or walk forward with him. He will never leave you, never. Trust his voice and follow his word.

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice." John 10:3-4


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