Tag: roadblocks

Freedom: What’s it good for?

PREPARATION

Freedom is such a powerful word. It invades life at so many levels. In the last few days we have seen it invade Egypt and Libya on a national level (One man cried out, “We are martyrs for freedom”). But freedom is not just a quest for victory over tyranny. Political freedom is not the ultimate freedom. Personal freedom is the backstory of creation. From the beginning we had the ability to choose. And it was that ability to choose that got us in trouble. And it still does.

That troublesome backstory still haunts us. We may not be fighting for political freedom, or the freedom of religion, but at some level we are struggling with/for freedom. We keep trying to fight for what we already have. It’s not hard to find something that still confines us, or imprisons us, or coerces us. God says we are free, but the words get lost in translation.

WE are free, but awkwardly silent about it. Free, but still holed-up in self-made prisons, surrendering to bullies, giving in to addictions, clinging to past rejections, fighting forgotten enemies, clutching the past like a security blanket, and refusing to venture beyond comfort zones.

Jesus came to proclaim freedom, to announce it, to publicize it, to reveal it, to confirm it. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Luke 4:18 NIV

Years later Paul was still trying to help believers accept this gift of freedom. “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 NIV

We are free, but like the early believers, still choose prison and sometimes oppression. Jesus has opened the door to freedom, but we choose to stay inside the cell. Why is that?

The 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption is more than a story of Andy breaking out of Shawshank State Prison. In the movie Morgan Freeman plays the part of a man serving a life sentence at Shawshank who becomes a close friend of Andy’s. Following Andy’s escape he is unexpectedly paroled after 40 years in the prison. As he walks into freedom he realizes that he’s not ready to live on the outside. In a nearby cheap hotel room he finds the scribbled message of another friend who had been released only to take his own life because he couldn’t adjust to freedom. In the end, Freeman is finally reunited with Andy on a secluded beach in Mexico. Finally he unwraps the gift of freedom and claims it.

For decades Freeman was trained to be a prisoner, to think like a prisoner. Even though he was proclaimed free, he didn’t know how to claim it. We do the same thing. We have been set free, but we still think like prisoners.

“It Is Finished,” the classic song by Bill and Gloria Gaither, invades our hearts and encourages us to unwrap the gift and claim it.
“Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging. Not all prisoners of war had come home. These were battlefields of my own making. I didn’t know that the war had been won. Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages had fought all the battles for me and that victory was mine for the claiming and now praise his name. I am free.”

Truth does set us free! But, it’s up to you, it’s your faith choice, “do something with it.”

INSPIRATION

On December 17, 1944, the Japanese army sent a twenty-three year-old soldier named Hiroo Onoda to Lubang, a small island in the Philippines. His orders were to lead his garrison in guerrilla warfare. As he was leaving for his assignment he was told, “You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you to give up your life voluntarily.”

In February of 1945, just a couple months after Onoda arrived on Lubang, the Allied forces attacked the island, and quickly overtook its defenses. Onoda and a small group of soldiers retreated into the jungle. They survived by rationing their rice supply, eating coconuts and green bananas from the jungle, and occasionally killing one of the locals’ cows for meat.

Some months later one of Onoda’s soldiers found a note left behind by a local resident, and it said, “The war ended on August 15. Come down from the mountains!” They decided it was an Allied propaganda trick to coax them out of hiding. It was not the only message they encountered; over the years, fliers were dropped from planes, newspapers were left, and letters from relatives with photos. Each attempt was viewed by the soldiers as a clever hoax constructed by the Allies.

Onoda lived in that jungle for 29 years, occasionally carrying out acts of sabotage as part of their guerrilla activities. All the while he remained convinced that the Japanese army would eventually retake the island from the Allies, and that their guerrilla tactics would prove invaluable in that effort

But in February of 1974, a Japanese college student named Norio Suzuki managed to track down Onoda tried to convince him that the war had ended long ago, but Onoda explained that he would not surrender unless his commander ordered him to do so.

Suzuki left the island and when he returned he brought Onoda’s one-time superior officer, Major Taniguchi. The Major was now retired from the military and had become a bookseller. He read aloud the surrender orders: Japan had lost the war, and all combat activity was to cease immediately. After a moment of quiet anger, Onoda pulled back the bolt on his rifle and unloaded the bullets, and then took off his pack and laid the rifle across it.

By the time he formally surrendered, Onoda had spent twenty nine of his fifty two years hiding the jungle, fighting a war that had long been over.

The war for you has already been fought…He won!

MOTIVATION

Introspection time: Have you unwrapped the gift of freedom, or are you still fighting a war that God has already won?

Have you become so used to being a prisoner, that you really don’t know how to live free?

Jesus came to set you free and for you to honor him by living like it. By the way, freedom isn’t comfortable. it’s an adventure. But, if you don’t live the adventure, you dishonor Jesus. He died to set you free.

Action item: We are free for a reason. We are free to honor the one who set us free. We are free to dream, to serve, to risk, to trust, to grow, to use talents and abilities and gifts so that people see Jesus. We are free to follow HIS lead. Be Free to honor the one to invented freedom.

Surrender…the war is over.

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February 28, 2011 | 0 Comments More