Whether we know it or not, we are bound by all sorts of things in our lives. When I say “bound” I’m intentionally wanting to conjure up the awful images of being tied up in a way that we can’t get out. It’s terrifying. Many of us are feeling it acutely right now – either because we can’t leave our homes – or in the emotional sense, feeling like we are trapped with no way out because of job loss or anxiety.
Here’s a strange truth though: the part of being bound that’s most awful is not actually the bondage itself. It’s that feeling deep in our hearts that knows it’s not the way things are supposed to be. Being bound can leave us feeling guilty, afraid, ashamed, oppressed, alone, angry. And we know we are created for the opposite, to be free.
In the face of all this it may seem like an out of touch fantasy to hear Jesus say, as he did in the book of Luke, quoting Isaiah, “I came to proclaim freedom for the captives.” Why aren’t we experiencing it? How can we find it? This week in our Daily Dose we’re going to explore freedom together.
Yesterday we celebrated Easter. It is the time of year when we remember the event that many people believe to be the pivotal moment of all human history: Jesus rose from the dead. Most theologians agree that all of Christianity really does hang on this being true. It has everything to do with breaking bondage and finding freedom. But how?
Last year, my grandpa was graced with the knowledge of his impending death to heart failure and the gift of having time to say goodbye with a clear mind to everyone he loved. During that time I was sitting with him one day and he said, “you know, early in my life I spent a lot of time arguing and debating with people of other Christian denominations about all sorts of things. I wish I hadn’t done that. As I face my death, the only thing I think that matters is if you believe Jesus rose from the dead. If that’s true, it’s all gonna be ok. It all hinges on that.”
Here was a man facing the ultimate bondage – the end of his life and separation from all that he’d known and loved on Earth. Yet he had complete peace. Peace that broke that bondage. And that is freedom. To be seemingly bound by something, but know in your heart you are free – and to be able to live more and more each day out of that reality instead of the bondage. But how?
First, we do have to reckon with our bondage. Where are you bound? By others? By your own stuff – sin, mistakes, guilt, shame? Where is our culture bound – by systems, powers, principalities – sin and evil? Where is that showing up in our own lives, neighborhoods, cities? Reckon with it. List it. Name it.
Now ask: Is God capable of setting me free? Is any of that bondage worse than ultimate separation from all that you know and love? Because that’s what death is. The declaration of the cross of Jesus is this: the stuff that binds you is real, but I’m setting you free. And the declaration of the resurrection is this: I have defeated it all, even death, so that you can have life. And it’s not just when your life on earth is done, but right now, while you’re living it.
So today, live it out. Speak freedom over yourself, your family, your friends. Declare it with your words and your prayers. Put it into action if a friend needs support on their freedom journey. Keep speaking it out. Daily. Weekly. Yearly. It’s not easy – and it’s not immediate, but it’s real. Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – and in so doing, set the captives free.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff