When we finally faithe in our real identity, that we are complete in Christ, whole, holy, new creations beloved by God, the weight of circumstances comes against us. We fight “a great fight of afflictions.” There will be people among our family, our friends, co-workers, who will dislike the changes God is making in us.
True freedom means we are completely given over to Christ; His designs, His plans for our lives, His life in us. True freedom is to be a slave to Christ; we’ve heard this many times before. But what does it mean, this true freedom?
To be enslaved wholly to Christ is to become detached in a healthy way from every other person, place, or thing. We no longer need them, in the sense of having to possess them. Take the case of a spouse. We fall in love, we marry, and we bond together. As a famous movie goes, “You complete me.”
But that isn’t the case. A husband or wife does not complete us or fill us; Christ does. Col 2:9-10 says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” The word “fullness” in Greek is pleroma, and it uses the image of a ship outfitted with sailors, rowers, soldiers, merchandise, cargo; think of a ship made ready with everything it needs for a long voyage.
The word “complete” in Colossians is pleroo in Greek, and it comes from the same root.
Christ is filled full of the Deity; everything that God is lives in Christ.
We are filled full of Christ, outfitted with everything we need for life and godliness.
Therefore we don’t need to be loved, accepted, approved by others. We don’t need approval from our boss, or co-workers, our friends. Our business is to give out of the riches we have been given; let reactions be what they may.
If you think about this you can see why a wife, when her husband’s mere need-love or need to be needed is put to death by the Spirit, might feel unloved. In reality the husband is just beginning to learn to love her truly, without needing to be loved himself. If she is still under the sway of the false, independent self, trying to make life work on her own terms, you can see that she would bring all her resources to bear on the removal of her idol – her husband’s need-love for her. “What we call love on earth is mostly the craving to be loved” (C.S. Lewis).
This of course applies the other way – of a wife who stands up in who she is in Christ and begins to realize she is no longer needy; why be needy? She has everything she needs for life and godliness already contained within her (2Peter 1:3).
It also applies to other family, friends, co-workers. We don’t need to be needed. We don’t need to be cherished, loved; in fact we fundamentally don’t need anything from anyone, because we have been given everything. A billionaire heiress doesn’t need money; she has it.
The false need-love inside those around us will respond to our new-found wholeness. Some will respond by trying to pull on us. Others will respond by being hurt and by their anger will turn from us. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:31-39).
Does this mean we respond in return with anger or manipulation? Absolutely not, though we sometimes will, especially in the beginning; the Blood is always sufficient when we fail to trust Christ within us.
We are being brought to true freedom for a purpose: to love as Jesus Christ loves, to be reflectors, mirrors, lenses through which His love shines out unhindered by the false self. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).