Christians hold that Jesus is king (Matt 21:1-11). All who become Christians receive Jesus as their lord and king (Col 2:6). This is a king like no other: he, though he is God and king, died for the sins of his people (Phil 2:6-11; Matt 20:28). He is the king of kings and lord of lords, and worthy of our worship and adoration.
Yet, to those who have not become Christians, perhaps living under the kingly rule of another person can sound more like tyranny than freedom. Won’t I be losing my rights? Won’t I be missing out? Wouldn’t I be more free if I were in charge instead of Jesus?
In some ways this is true: you will have to relinquish rights and some privileges if you bow the knee to Christ. You lose the right to live for yourself instead of God. You lose the right to define morality how you please. You lose the right to say that your life and time and resources are your own. You lose out on some fleeting pleasures which are accompanied by the thrill of sinful behavior.
But were you ever free apart from Jesus? Were you free to do good and not evil (Rom 7:23)? Were you free to enjoy God and experience a restored relationship with him? Were you free to be a member of God’s family and experience all the blessing and privileges of having God as your Father? Were you free from sin’s condemnation? The Bible’s answer to all of these questions is NO, apart from Christ you were NOT free to enjoy these things. In fact, before we come under the reign of Jesus, we are slaves to wicked passions and ungodly pleasures (Titus 3:3).
Coming to live under the reign of Jesus is actually an invitation to true freedom. Jesus brings us into the privileges and pleasures that we sin has robbed us of (eternal life, forgiveness of sin, membership into the family of God, restored relationship with God). He did this at a complete cost to himself and as a free gift in love to us (Rom 5:8).
Living under his reign is freeing. I’m free to trust Jesus with my life, no matter how it pans out. I’m free to trust in what he gives and what he withholds. I’m free to trust in his wisdom. I’m free to trust in his salvation, even as I sin again and again. I’m free to enjoy the outrageous grace of God.
In the end, living on the reign of Jesus brings us freedoms better than anything we could have imagined and frees us from the illusion that we were actually ever free to begin with.