Author: Abi Ririe
Growing up, I loved James Bond films. Action, adventure, exotic locales, British accents, what's not to love?... Don't answer that.
One of my favorite characters is Q, the gadget guy. His job is to keep Bond armed with all the latest laser watches and exploding pens. During the movie GoldenEye, Q presents James Bond with his new car, a BMW, complete with stinger missiles behind the headlights. He then cautions the spy, "Need I remind you, 007, that you have a licence to kill, not to break the traffic laws." Brilliant.
With the responsibilities of being a spy for Her Majesty, James Bond has an immense amount of freedom. He is indeed free to kill (according to Britain) should the situation require it.
But 007's freedom is not complete. Q very perceptively points out that not all things are available to him, that he is still bound by law.
As believers we love to quote John 8:36, "Whom the Son sets free, he shall be free indeed." But what does that freedom look like? Do we have a license for all things? What are we free from?
Context matters. John 8:34 says, "Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." So we have been set free from sin. We learn more in Galatians 5:1, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
Subject again. Christ has given us a license to live, but not to break the traffic laws. There is an erroneous view of God's love gaining popularity lately. This is the theory that God's love for us is so great is doesn't really matter if we sin, if we disobey; He will forgive us.
And yes, His forgiveness is great. But it is not meant to cause evil to abound in our lives. When we choose to sin, we pick up the chains that God has broken and refasten them around our wrists. We do not have license to sin.
What then are we free to do? What is so special about the freedom we find in Christ?
In Christ we are free from sin and legalism. We don't have to struggle and strive under the chains of works. In Christ, we are free to serve God. 1 Peter 2:16 summarizes our freedom this way, "Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God."
No one else, other than His own children, can serve God. Unbelievers can be used by God, moved by His hand, but they cannot serve Him with devotion and gratitude.
And that seems like a bad deal really. I'm free to serve?
But there are only two options: we either serve as slaves of God, a kind, loving Master, Whose yoke is easy, Whose burden is light, or we serve ourselves, evil, and the powers of this world. And there is no crueler master than ourselves. We are never satisfied, enough is never enough, there is never freedom.
So with Paul, Peter, and Christ Himself serving as our mentors, we hear this caution just as brilliantly through time, "Need I remind you, disciple, that you have a licence to serve, not to break the traffic laws."