As I was driving to my office this morning, I heard an interview with a young musician named Lindsey Stirling. They played one of her songs titled Shatter Me. Something about the song struck me, but I wasn’t sure what it was. The interviewer asked Lindsey about her inspiration for the song. She said that it was inspired by her struggle to break free from unrealistic expectations imposed on her by society, others and even herself. She wanted to shatter the false self she had become and release the real Lindsey. At that point I knew why the song had touched me. It wasn’t a song about defeat, but true victory.
In one way or another, we are all trapped in a false self, created and maintained by our sinful nature. This false self is built of lies. We come to believe that we will be happy, if we live up to other people’s expectations of us. We believe we will be happy, if we accumulate more things. We believe we will be happy, if we live for the moment, without regard for consequences or the future. We believe we will be happy, if there are no rules or restraints in our lives. All of these false beliefs build a shell around us that imprisons us in an unhappy, frustrated, unfulfilled life. Instead of freedom, we live in fear. Instead of joy, we live with disappointment and discouragement.
Jesus talked about this trap in John 8:34-36. Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We were created in the image of God to bring glory to God. We were created to live in relationship with God. We were created to live in relationship with one another. Sin has marred all of these things. It has dimmed the image of God within us. It has put a barrier between us and God. It has twisted and distorted our relationships with one another. Instead of living in the joy and freedom that God intended for us, we are trapped in a confining, restricting world that eats away at our true selves.
Jesus came into the world to shatter the false self that confines us. He came to give us life and freedom. At first, it feels like Jesus is taking away our life, as He strips away the layers of deception that hold us captive. But as the light of truth penetrates into our soul, we realize that He is really releasing the true person within. If Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed!
The process of shattering our old self begins by letting Jesus into our lives. He will not force His way in. He waits patiently for us to open the door. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Once we let Jesus in, we must learn to trust Him completely. One of the casualties of our sinful life is trust. We have learned to protect ourselves by not letting anyone get to close. As scary as it seems, in order to experience the transforming power of Christ, we must trust Him completely. The Bible puts this in terms of believing in Jesus. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
As we learn to trust Jesus, then we must give him complete control of our lives. This is the scariest thing of all. Most of us have been hurt by others that we trusted. Most of us have been disappointed by institutions that we trusted. Satan will continually remind us of these hurts. Jesus has come to heal those hurts. He invites us to let Him take the lead in our lives. It is only in letting go of control of our lives that we can fully experience our true personhood. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26
The more and more we let Jesus control the course of our lives, the more free we become. Instead of being trapped by sin, we are free to experience life in the way God intended for us to experience it. We now have a real choice. We can choose things that will give us temporary pleasure, but hurt us. Or we can choose things that will give us real joy that will last. Each time we choose God’s way, we shatter another false promise that can only burden us.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:11-14
We do not have to live our lives trapped in sin. We do not have to live our lives seeking the illusive approval of society and those around us. Through Christ, we are set free. We are free to live life to the fullest. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10