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Free to Return to Jail

Free to Return to Jail

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

Working or volunteering in jail, it’s always disappointing to see anyone return to their confinement. While incarcerated, those inmates likely promised themselves and others that they’d walk the path of righteousness once they got out, but when they attained their freedom, they used that freedom to return to the very life that caused them to be incarcerated in the first place. Predictably, their self-destructive behavior caught up with them and they ended up right back where they started. It can be maddening to watch – those who make the same mistakes repeatedly, despite being given so many chances at freedom.

It may not have involved a literal jail, but I’ve found myself doing the same thing. Imprisoned by my own addiction, I turned to God, who provided me with a way out. Confess. Get help. Go to treatment. Change your life. Provided with the opportunity for freedom though, I used that freedom to go right back to the behavior that enslaved me in the first place. Then, I had the audacity to blame God. I thought you’d set me free!

What I failed to understand was the principle taught in today’s passage. In it, Peter said that as Christians, we’re free to follow Christ into the new life. But that means we’re also free to return to the old life. This is what I think a lot of us miss. We mistakenly think that coming to faith means we’ll never want the old life again – that God instantly transports us out of the prison and then burns it down. The old life though is still ingrained in us though. We don’t just magically forget old friends, behaviors patterns, and pleasures. So, though Christ opens the prison door and commands us to follow him, it isn’t easy, and it isn’t automatic. We can follow Christ or we can go back and sometimes, we simply want to go back to the prison that we know and find comfortable.

Peter taught that, as followers of Christ we must not use our freedom to go back to the old life. Rather, we must daily abandon the old ways to live as servants of God – doing his will. He’s set us free and so we now have the freedom to experience the new life. Free will however, means that we also have the ability to return to jail. The choice is up to us and so daily, we must take responsibility to choose the future we truly desire.

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