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True freedom

December 2017 | by Pete Young

I’m not sure what you think about Christianity or even Christians as you are reading this, but I would like to share with you the way the God of the Bible changed my life in ways I never thought would happen.

My upbringing was a Christian one, as both my parents are Bible-believing Christians. I grew up going to church on a Sunday and hearing what the Bible has to say.

However, I didn’t believe what was being taught and I had little interest in God or changing the way I lived because of what I heard. As I saw it then, God was in a book — not reality — and that’s the way I liked it.

Hardness                                                              

As I grew older, the world around me was a powerful draw. I started going out with my friends socially, and I was hardened even more against letting God have any influence over my life as I became a young adult.

I finished school and went off to university, where I thought I would finally have the freedom and liberty to do whatever I pleased. I can honestly say how wrong I was. I had the freedom to be a typical student, which I thought was all I needed, but all of it was short-term pleasure.

I found studying for my engineering degree tough. Some of my flatmates gave me a rough ride and I sometimes wondered whether this was all there was to ‘life’, and whether university was worth the hassle.

But I completed my first year (phew!) and my parents offered me a chance to go on a Christian activity camp over the summer, to which I thought (to my shame), ‘Free holiday, winner!’

So, off I went, with no intention of changing the way I was living my life. However, on the camp, I heard a message I had heard many times before. It was that every man, woman and child falls short of God’s holy standards for our lives (Romans 3:23) and, therefore, I, and anyone else, would deservedly be punished for falling short (the Bible calls this ‘sin’) when I died. I would face being judged against God’s standards.

This time, differently from all the other times, I looked at my life honestly comparing it to the Bible, and thought this is reality: there is a God to whom I am answerable, and I have much to answer for.

However, I thank God that it was not the end of the story. The Bible teaches that, if anyone asks for forgiveness from God for all they have done wrong, and believes Jesus Christ willingly died to take the punishment they deserve, then they will be saved and made a Christian.

Discipleship

This great offer of free salvation was revealed as truth to my heart. I became a Christian and knew true freedom for the first time. A great weight fell from my shoulders, which, for 19 years of my life, I hadn’t even known was there.

Fast forward several years, and where am I now? I have remained a sinner, as my loved ones are painfully aware, with the ability to drop to great depths of awful selfishness. But God’s arms always stretch down and lift me up and set me going again, like a loving father does to his child after a fall.

The work of God did not stop at saving me. He continues to work on my character, where there are things which need changing, and I am so thankful for his kindness in never losing patience with me. I am now part of Castlefields Church in Derby and I have gained an extended ‘family’, with an environment of learning, of growing, of friendship and of sharing life with one another.

I have come to learn that true freedom is not about being able to do what you want and when you want as I’d thought for so long, but it is knowing you are forgiven from your sin through Christ, and knowing God’s love for you through that forgiveness. Do you know true freedom in your life?

Pete Young