Freedom!

Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating “freedom.” With Memorial Day, we remembered those who died in military service for our freedom.  As I walked on the streets of Cuba, this month, I couldn’t help but think of the lack of freedom in the lives of the good people that lived there.  When we watch the news and hear about the oppressed around the world, a voice rises up in us and calls out to the captives, “Fight!  Fight for your freedom!”  It is a longing in every one of us, in every aspect of life- to always be free.

It is interesting that the opposite of free is exactly what it is- costly.  Every time an individual enjoys the luxury of freedom, the mind must go back. There was a cost somewhere; a payment made, along the way, to purchase that freedom- a transaction that would catapult into the future lives of others- affecting them on a daily basis.  Someone, at some point, paid for each freedom that is possessed.

We see that in our own country.  The cost of freedom has been high.  The Memorial Foundation reports that, “Since 1776, over one million Americans have secured the blessing of liberty through their lives.”  They also point out that 42 million Americans have served their country in time of war.  Freedom is costly.

Webster defines freedom as a noun:  “The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”  In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace is fighting for the freedom of his country, Scotland.  At the end of the movie, he has been captured by England and is being tortured to death.  Legend says that in the last agonizing moments of his life, he, ironically, cries out, “Freedom!!!” for all to hear.  He is shackled and imprisoned but his heart is free because he has lived honorably.  As a result of his sacrifice, his countrymen are inspired and fight to eventually take their country back from England’s “enslavement” of them.

Take a moment to watch this scene: Braveheart – FREEDOM – Y#3299DC

In our contemplation of freedom, there is One that trumps them all- the ultimate and final freedom.  The eternal freedom that Christ gave to us through dying 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

God recognized that no matter how hard we were to fight for physical freedom, we would never truly experience spiritual freedom from sin without His sacrifice.  Even in the days of Christ, the throngs were so focused on freedom from Rome that they didn’t see the One, before their very eyes, that could grant them freedom from every kingdom and dominion.

Christ recognized that physical freedom was temporary but spiritual freedom was eternal.  We need to remember that too as we share the Good News of the Gospel- the news that brings freedom to every facet of a person’s life, despite the physical strongholds they may find themselves in- whether it is a communist country, a prison cell, a wall street desk or a down town park bench- each one of us is invited to receive and experience the ultimate freedom that only Christ can give.

Jesus declared the war to be over when He said from the cross, It is finished.

Freedom is now at hand,

Brice Maddock, COO Teen Challenge Southeast

 

Enrich Culture – Freedom to love and trust one another

A healthy culture is a safe place where people can identify who they are and why they are here. Spring is here and so too is the pollen that comes with it. As the trees start to bloomMan blowing his nose in canola field and the pollen gets airborne, people begin coughing, sneezing, scratching the throat, and rubbing the eyes. Lots of people have terrible allergies and infections during this season and some literally have to stay indoors to avoid the elements of the outdoors. They become sick and weakened because the environment is unhealthy.  So too it is when we are in a spiritually unsafe environment, we get spiritual allergies. Spiritual allergies prevent us from becoming spiritually mature. The environment exudes un-forgiveness, bitterness towards God and others, mistrust, dis-unity and emotions could explode at any moment.

Danny Silk describes the freedom we feel in an opposite culture where people are free to love and trust one another: “A safe place is where the fear of misused freedom doesn’t get to rise up and intimidate us out of risking trust and love in our relationships with one 101_0751another. The essence of love is safety and connection. In Isaiah God says “The mountains and the hills will be removed, but My kindness shall never leave, you nor shall My covenant of peace with you ever be removed.” In other words God is saying “I want you to be completely sure of My attitude towards you…My kindness and My covenant of peace will never be taken away.” This security allow us to be free everywhere we go. The Hebrew word Shalom means safe, well, happy, friendly; health, prosperity, and peace. Our covenant with God is a safe place. The power in this reality is that we as human beings blossom in safety. This is why shalom also means “health” and “wholeness.”His covenant brings peace, happiness, safety, health and wholeness, and it will never be taken from us. When God shows up, His presence is a safe place. When the Lord shows up, His atmosphere is charged with peace.”

“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health, yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it” ~   Patrick Lencioni