What is freedom? Every year when July 4th rolls around, Americans celebrate our independence from the British. The United States is no longer governed by another country but is a democracy unto itself. This vast land of states is free and people can live according to the laws and policies set up by the federal, state and local governments. We are free to fun for office, vote for leaders, and worship in the church of our choice, as well as travel freely throughout the land without question. These are some of the freedoms that we have and can easily be taken for granted at least until we travel to other countries and find not everyone has these same freedoms.
But first, I want to write about freedom. Traveling in and out of Israel, the West Bank, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Jordon River area, we had to navigate through many security checkpoints armed with guards and dogs ready to search personal identification and vehicle registrations. There were 30-foot walls that surrounded many areas built to keep people in and/or stop people from leaving. There were roads that were open to some people but not for others. It didn’t take long for us to feel the angst of not having the freedom to travel or move about freely.
Of course living or moving without restrictions is not the only freedom that we can experience. Freedom comes in may forms such as addicts who are freed from the grip of their addictions, people who are healed of diseases, forgiveness brings release from guilt and shame, and loving support which can give someone the courage to escape a bad relationship. There is no better feeling than being freed from pain, abuse or guilt so much so we often times feel like we were handed a precious gift or a second chance.
While following the steps of Jesus, I was reminded of the biblical stories of Jesus and his desire to free people from the chains that held them in bondage. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and accepted the “uns” like the undesirables, unloved, unfaithful and the unwanted. Biblical stories such as the man named Legion due to the number of evil spirits within him, was healed and given back his own name and place in society, blind men were able to see and re-enter their community, Women lives that were restored and given a voice to be heard. He shed light on the darkness and gave words, power and status to those without a voice. Jesus restored lives! He freed people not only through healing but also by his love, forgiveness and grace.
There are all sorts of chains that bind and enslave us even when we live in a free country. Having experienced the walls and the security of Israel, I truly appreciate the freedoms of my homeland. As a woman of faith, I am especially grateful for the freedom that Christ has given me by his love and faithfulness. Jesus’ love is a powerful force that brings freedom to a hurting world whether we are chained by real walls or by hurts that can cage us in body, mind or spirit. The Apostle Paul says it like this; “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you (Galatians 5:1). What does freedom mean to you?