Freedom. Is this not a fundamental cry of the human spirit? Haven’t the citizens of Tunisia, Egypt & Libya been pursuing freedom during the still developing “Arab Spring”? Surely freedom is something to be applauded, welcomed and sought by us all. Is it not true that, as the Transformers film put it, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings”? [Very pleased to get a quotation in from Transformers]
When we are seeking freedom, there are two questions that we must ask. Firstly, freedom from what? Secondly, freedom for what? What are we trying to get free from, and what are we being freed for?
The people in Libya have been struggling to get free from years of repressive dictatorship. But none of us knows what they will do with this freedom? Will the future be better than the past? It can be easy to assume that attaining freedom is a good thing in itself. However, the experience of history shows that this is not always the case. The arrival of ‘freedom’ in Iraq following the downfall of Saddam Hussein was not the herald of a better life. Many Iraqi’s have longed for the ‘old days’ with all its difficulties, because ‘freedom’ has brought more pain than blessings.
The same is true for each of us. Every human looks for freedom. Freedom from fear, sickness, depression, loneliness, purposelessness, alcohol, drug or food addictions …..
If we are fortunate enough to get free – what next? Will freedom from one thing lead to the life that we want, or do we run the risk of becoming enslaved by something else. To get free from these things has to be a good thing, but there has to be something to be freed into. Freedom is not a destination in itself, but release from something so that we can get into something else.
My friend Noel Fellowes, now the minister of Dursley Baptist church, was imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit. After eight years he was fully pardoned and released (for the whole story read the book ‘Killing Time’ or visit the website). He was overjoyed to be released, but didn’t have anything to live for now that he was free – anger, alcohol and depression was the result. He was angry at the authorities, angry with the wasted years in prison, hardened by his experiences and lacked a future. It was his encounter with Jesus’ message that was the beginning of his transformation, and his real freedom – “If the Son of God sets you free, you will be free indeed” (The bible).
And us? What do we want to be free from, and what do we want to be freed for? Freedom from something is the first step – and certainly this is something that God wants to do with us. It’s not always an instant thing – but God wants to help us walk free from anger, fear, alcohol, eating disorders, unforgiveness and pain. But He also wants us to walk into something new – a new life, a life worth living, a life lived with purpose, hope and joy.