For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NLT).
Thoughts about freedom are in the air even more than usual this time of year. More than just the celebration of Independence Day in the U.S. (July 4), demonstrations for freedom are occurring all over the world. I can't help but believe that the passion for freedom is part of God creating us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). Something deep within us longs to be free to create and decide.
Unlike God, however, we have a deep yearning to become. God is, was, and always will be (Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8). His fundamental nature is immutable — God is faithful: his unchangeable nature of gracious compassion and righteous character ensure his love for his people (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). We, however, are fallible and flawed. We then attempt to move past our failures and live past their consequences. We don't want to live in the past with our failures, so we hope to become someone better, someone, new.
Unfortunately, those we've disappointed or hurt, those who are our enemies, and our internal sense of shame and regret anchor us to our failed self. We long for the freedom to become who we long to be and were made to be. But where can we find this freedom to become?
The apostle Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit gives us the freedom to become — to become our better selves and to become our version of Jesus incarnated through us. Rules can't do this — not even God's rules. (This truth is Paul's point in 2 Corinthians 3.) Only God's Holy Spirit has this power.
Only the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11) has the power to make us new and help us become.
Only the Spirit that Jesus poured out on us in our rebirth (Titus 3:3-7) has the power to make us new and help us become.
The glorious good news, the freedom we find in grace, is that the Holy Spirit was given to us as a gift when we came to Christ (Acts 2:38-39). This Spirit lives in us to help us in all sorts of helpful ways in our lives as Jesus' followers (Romans 8:1-39). This Spirit brings power to us to help us become all God wants us to be (Ephesians 3:14-21).
And how is this supposed to happen?
We are called to focus upon and to contemplate Jesus so that little by little, we begin to reflect his nature, his glory, as the Spirit transforms us to become like Jesus. This transformation happens gradually. In Christ, through the Holy Spirit, we have the freedom to become!
And that, dear friend, is the greatest freedom of all.