On my walk today I noticed with new eyes, all the barbed wire lying around the place, that has been cut down from the many fences that were used to separate all the land into paddocks. Now the barbed wire has been pulled down and in some places you can see it rolled up and pinned to a pole here and there. In some cases, there are coils of it lying in the grass where it’s been left. In another place, along the path, there is about 2 feet of barbed wire standing up out of the dirt as if it has grown there. It isn’t even in the paddock or attached to a pole, it is literally under the pathway and sticking through ready to catch anything that brushes past it. It is quite out of place. There are traces of it everywhere.
All this reminded me of religion. One might ask of another “What barbed wire are you wrapped in?” and they might reply “Oh, I’m Pentecostal” or “Good works and bible study”. Another might answer “Oh yes, I’m all caught up (entangled) in what other people think of me”, “I’m ensnared in keeping up appearances” or “I’m always trying to make sure that I’m living the right way and avoiding the wrong way”.
Religion is bondage. It is binding just like barbed wire. When one is caught on, in or by barbed wire, it is very difficult to escape and to do so really hurts. To be free of barbed wire once caught, generally means you’re in for a bit of agony, at the very least some torn clothes if not torn flesh to some degree. If you’ve ever experienced this you know what I’m talking about. Getting yourself free from religion is just like that.
But how do you know if you’re bound by religion?
- You’ll feel a separation between you and other Christian brothers & sisters
- You’ll be concerned with what others think of you on a spiritual level
- You’ll see yourself as different to other believers (usually, more spiritual than them)
- You won’t have a genuine sense of freedom
- You’ll be bound to some expectation of performance
- You’ll be crushed with disappointment in yourself when you sin in front of others
- If you do recognise any of these religious ways in your own life, even hating them, you feel powerless to change
So on this land where I walk every day, I was reminded by seeing these traces of barbed wire, how the Lord Jesus has removed the separation, the division, the fences if you like, amongst His people, His body.
Paul says ;
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
14For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.…(Ephesians 2:14-16)
He has made us One New Man just as this land here is one lot of land, far and wide and no longer divided and separated by barbed wire.
The Lord wants us to be free of religion, remember it wasn’t the sinners but the religious leaders of His day that Jesus continually rebuked. However, it is a very real challenge to get ourselves free of it once we’ve been caught by it and to do so is often a very long and painstaking process.
Yet, our Lord Jesus is always cutting down the barbed wire of religion that has seized many a heart. One of the nastiest aspects of religion is that we never realise how deep it goes. It has been described by many who have gone through and are still going through this process, as a rabbit hole.
Jesus often frees us by connecting us with others who have been freed also, who can then help us.Only a free person can help free a person. So if you sense that you have been caught in the barbed wire of religion and you want to get free so you can roam and explore the entire land that is Jesus Christ Himself, I’d like to encourage you to ask the Lord to help you find others who have been freed. From their place of freedom in learning to live by His indwelling life and not by religious strongholds, just sharing life with them will support you greatly in your journey toward freedom. I know it has been paramount to my ‘losing my religion’ which is ongoing.
Ways in which being with Christ centered believers who are free from religion, can help;
- We learn Christ
- Christ is revealed in us
- We begin to know for the first time what freedom really is
- We learn for the first time what God’s greatest purpose is
- We begin to understand who the church is
- We begin to love the church and see Christ expressed in every member
- The gifts of Jesus to the church become apparent and free-flowing
Jesus said “I have come to give you life abundant.” Paul said “It is for freedom’s sake that Christ came to set us free”.
As T. Austin-Sparks writes, “How did Paul come out of his narrow Jewish conceptions about the Messiah? Simply by the revelation of Christ in him, and as that revelation grew his liberation increased…it was the revelation of Christ which was emancipating him, leading him out, freeing him all the time” (By T. Austin-Sparks from: All Things in Christ – Chapter 1).
Are you free today friend?