for you were called to freedom, brothers. only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. [galatians 5:13 – part 2]
i recently watched the the film ‘chariots of fire’ with my family. it tells the story of scottish rugby and track star eric liddell who ran in the 1924 olympics and used his athletic ability to honor and point to Christ. the movie certainly presents him as a Christian, but does not tell of the rest of his extraordinary life.
after the olympics, he gave up running and was a missionary to china. during world war II, he became a japanese prisoner of war, but encouraged and loved on his fellow prisoners, working long hours, going without food and sleep, organizing activities and sports activities in order to keep morale up among the chinese prisoners. he essentially worked himself to death, and when asked by an interviewer at his bedside where he lay exhausted how he did it, how he kept running and serving amid the pressure and conditions of the camp, his last words were:
“it’s complete surrender”
–he couldn’t even finish the word surrender–he was able to get out “surren–” and he laid his head on his pillow and died, entering into the freedom of Christ. he was 43 years old. Although imprisoned, he experienced a type of freedom that his captors could not understand or overcome!
Christ completely surrendered to the will of the Father, and through his death he has called us to freedom, and in that freedom, we also surrender.
we surrender our lustful desires of the flesh
we surrender our pride
we surrender our comfort
we surrender getting our own way
we surrender serving ourselves
through love we serve one another.
by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. [1 john 3:16]
we are called to die. laying down our lives doesn’t necessarily mean that we will physically go and die as a martyr (though it may mean that), but that we will die to our own desires, crucified with Christ [galatians 2:20], serving joyfully, eschewing our preferences and comfort.
as recipients of lavish grace, we have the new desire to serve others, glorifying God. this is why eric liddell’s story is so moving–it isn’t about eric liddell–he loved and served in a way that magnified Christ. in the same way, our story is not about us–let us lay down our lives so that we might run in the freedom of Christ!
~ conor eastman