A true story from the fourteenth century tells of a duke named Raynald III. Raynald lived a life of indulgence and was extremely overweight. In fact, he was commonly called by his Latin nickname, “Crassus”, which means “fat.” After a violent quarrel, Ryanald’s younger brother, Edward, led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around him in the Nieuwkerk Castle and promised him he could regain his freedom as soon as he was able to leave the room.
This wouldn’t have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near –normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent him a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way to freedom, Raynald grew fat. He stayed in the room for ten years, till his brother died in battle. But by then, his health was so ruined that he died within a year, a prisoner of his own appetite.
The reality is that many believers in Christ are prisoners as well, and miss out on the freedom that Christ came to give. Because of our own desire for control it’s easy to become prisoners of legalism, proudly demonstrating rigorous adherence to the letter of the law without ever experiencing the joy of Christ’s redemption. The other extreme is to completely indulge the appetite for pleasure excusing our laxness with “grace”. In both cases we have become slaves and don’t even realize it.
True freedom in Christ calls us back to what we were originally created for and that is to enjoy God and glorify Him with our whole lives. The freedom that Christ gives is not meant to make us self-centered, rather it is meant to draw us toward righteousness and goodness. It is not meant to for disobedience, but to compels us toward obedience. In Galatians 5:1 Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by again by a yoke of slavery.” Amen.