So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
What drew us to Uganda was not only the plight of orphans but also the fact that some are confined in prison. Everyday we see captivity and imprisonment. Children held in cells sometimes for weeks or months, with little food or interaction with others. They are neglected in so many ways – bound with little hope of freedom.
Seeing this over and over again, you really appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in America. And yet every time we come home, we can’t help but ask: How free are we?
Captivity takes many forms. It’s sad but in the midst of all our freedoms there still is a lot of bondage. It has become clear to us that even amidst liberty one can still be a captive; and yet in captivity one can experience true freedom.
Just last week, after talking for many hours with one of our counselors, a young boy in one of the facilities turned his life over to Christ. Part of his story was recorded by Moses here. The despair he knew led him to see no other hope but to kill himself by breaking a razor blade into his food and attempting to eat it. By God’s grace he came to see the hope that Christ offers all of us. Although he remains in the facility (hopefully not for much longer), he has begun to taste the true freedom and liberty that only comes through the grace of God. We are rejoicing that the life of this boy was redeemed both physically and spiritually and that we were there to witness it and be blessed by his transformation.
In America there is a slightly different picture. Even in our freedom, we openly recognize (and in many cases voluntarily submit to) forms of bondage. We talk about “golden handcuffs.” We all know people who are “chained” to their desks and busy “slaving away” at their jobs. Many would admit to living under a “mountain of debt” or to being “stuck” with their over-mortgaged homes.
Why do we willingly submit to things that keep us in bondage? We’re good at burdening ourselves. But Jesus didn’t come so we could submit to a yoke of slavery once again. He came to set the captives free! Not just children who are confined to prisons in Uganda, but also prosperous Americans.
We tend to think of freedom as the right to do just about anything we want. Go wherever we want, do whatever we want and live however we want. But Paul expressed it a little differently. He said, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Gal 5:13.
Do we use our freedom to serve and love others, or to just gratify ourselves? Are we fully available to be used by God (in any way He sees fit) or are our resources (time, money and gifts) already fully committed to serving our desires? So many of us don’t have the bandwidth to serve God and others because we are too stretched (in some cases by our comfort) to even consider it. The cares of this world weigh us down like a millstone. Meanwhile, we miss out on tremendous spiritual blessings.
Freedom is absolutely precious to us, but it’s infinitely more precious to Jesus. That’s why He proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…” Luke 4:18. He didn’t say this in a prison or concentration camp. He said it in a church. Why? Because we all need to be set free.