· “The world is flat.”
· “People will never make a machine that can fly like a bird.”
· “God could never accept me because of what I’ve done.”
Wrongly held beliefs like these create in people what some have called false agreements. When we adopt these beliefs in our life, we make conscious and subconscious agreements that cause us to build our thoughts and behavior on what turn out to be a house of cards. Even more tragic, when we live our lives based on false agreements, we miss out on exciting opportunities to grow and go with God in ways beyond our misguided thinking.
A few years ago my nephew Jesse was selected to be a contestant on the television program “The Biggest Loser.” Jesse began the program at a weight of 367 pounds, but by the time the show was over he weighed 201 pounds, a loss of 166 pounds. How did he accomplish this? First, Jesse entered this show realizing that his life was at stake. He was willing to be humbled by nationally broadcast weigh-ins; grueling workouts that break people to tears and exhaustion, and gut-wrenching sessions with trainers, doctors, and a dietician. Jesse was also willing to look deep inside at the false agreements he had made with food throughout his life. Jesse had to be confronted with the fact that his excess body weight was symptomatic of a deeper problem: accepting as reality things that are not true or healthy. These false overlays warped his sense of worth and purpose and had to be confronted and corrected in order for him to lose weight for a TV program and keep the weight off for the rest of his life. Today Jesse continues to maintain a healthy body weight and has helped other people lose weight and develop healthy lifestyles.
At times all of us, including those who have followed Jesus Christ for years or even decades, need to be confronted with the fact that we have heard and accepted things that are actually artificial, destructive falsehoods that have no basis in God’s Word. Like Jesse, we need to come to grips with the fact that our very spiritual health is at stake. False agreements pull us away from God and His plan for us, yet we hold onto them for dear life even as they poison us spiritually. It’s important that we don’t easily dismiss ourselves from looking inside because we think we’re above this issue. The reality is that we all have made false agreements and God wants to set us free so that we can live in the new freedom He bought for each of us on the cross.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Apart from those that directly flow from God’s Word, I am convinced that many things we have held as true will be revealed to us in heaven as being false, human-made constructs. These are the things we need to surrender to God as we ask and allow Him to transform us in worship. These false constructs can come in many forms and from many sources, including:
· Legalistic traditions, worship forms, even styles of music —both traditional and modern.
· Philosophies outside of the Truth of the Bible that we erroneously superimpose onto God’s Word.
· Past spiritual, emotional, or physical abuse that creates lies about the victim’s self-worth as well as his or her perceptions of worth in God’s eyes.
· Self-centered, destructive beliefs, patterns, and lifestyles conveyed by film, TV, movies, print media, and spokespeople of the toxic culture in which we live.
The first step is to ask God to open your eyes to see your false agreements. God’s desire is for you to be free of these chains. This freedom starts with a new agreement, one that agrees with God’s Word that simply but powerfully states:
“If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36).
Even as Christ has set us free, it is very important that God gives us the fellowship and gifts of other believers to help us learn, grow, and live in that freedom. Just as Jesse sought help from gifted trainers, followers of Christ also need to seek help in finding God’s perspectives, teaching, and support from a spiritually healthy church. Not just any church, but one that both preaches and practices grace and growth in God and His Word. Once you’ve found a church to attend, don’t remain anonymous and alone. Join a Bible study, worship regularly, listen to insightful Word-based teaching, work with a trained pastoral counselor, and meet with other committed Christ-followers for support and accountability. With God’s help and the support of other Christ-followers, you can experience and enjoy the freedom of seeing old, false agreements die, and new, God-filled agreements become the growing reality in your life.
Stepping into the new agreements with God, yourself, and others is an important act of worship and submitting to God. Don’t be surprised if one day you find yourself, like Jesse, helping others to experience the freedom you have found.