Freedom. Liberty. Independence. These words keep taking up more value by the day.
Shades of Freedom
People work hard at being financially independent. In some parts of the world where most women tend to be house wives, “advocates for women independence” have come along with the philosophy: “women should be financially independent”.
The unemployed want the freedom found in employment.
Employees want freedom from employers: entrepreneurship.
Employers want freedom from taxes and unfavorable government policies. If it were possible, they may prefer a policy free system after all.
Governments want freedom from accusations, especially from the opposition party(ies). Some governments would love to plunder the country’s wealth without being held accountable. Isn’t that freedom too?
There are countries that crave freedom from the woes of recurrent earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, land slides, forest fires, and other occurrences tagged ‘natural disasters’.
People cry out against the ills of injustice. Where is the freedom justice brings?
The pains of hunger and disease cannot be easily forgotten. In addition to these, man has found no way to freedom from death. The best life styles seem to add a few more years and that is how much gain there seems to be.
We will not forget how many teenagers crave freedom from guidance, whether parental, academic, social, etc.
On the other hand, people strive for liberty to use bombs, guns and knives to enforce their religious/political wills. Others seek freedom to commit abortion at will: as long as the unborn interferes with the parent(s) liberty or other plans, his or her life is not worth much. Still, others clamour for liberty for prostitution, liberty for homosexual exploits, and some people are radically proposing to help the world gain freedom from God.
As Nigeria marks another year of independence, we reflect on the implications of independence on different areas of national interest.
What has become improved and what has become worse? We remember the joys of being free from colonial rule and the price many paid to secure that freedom. We also remember that over one million people were killed in the first civil war in which the Nigerian government suppressed the independence of a group of indigenes who had declared themselves a sovereign state.
Independence at this level has never been a matter of fun. People suffer in the ensuing wars and the aftermath lingers for long.
Man loves freedom. However, the things from which man often seeks to be free are really the things for which he should have the least concern.
Meet The Strongest “Freedom Advocate”
If there ever was a man who was deeply concerned about ‘all-round-freedom’ for the human race, this man was Jesus Christ.
A great part of His ministry was spent giving people freedom. Hundreds of years before His birth, a prophet spoke clearly about the purpose the Messiah will fulfill (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus spoke these very words about Himself in Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus did not take oppression lightly. Whenever He saw a case, He was always willing to bring freedom to the oppressed. This is expressed clearly in Acts 10:38:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
To emphasize how seriously Jesus took the freedom of the human race, He purchased the freedom by going as far as paying the ultimate price: “death”. Not just any death, but death by the cruel method of crucifixion.
“Jesus took ‘human freedom’ seriously. He paid the supreme price: He gave His Life for freedom’s sake”
He showed His ability to secure the freedom by His resurrection from the dead. This meant that He could stand as Advocate in defense for those who had received freedom in Him.
Freedom That Lasts
The freedom that Jesus brought was not a fading one. He did not come to treat the symptoms while the root of the disease remained. That is why He never proclaimed financial freedom or freedom from ‘natural disasters’.
Lord Jesus came to take out the root of the problem and the root was not an external thing, it was internal, in the hearts of men. The root lay in the deepest craving of man through which he had become a slave to invisible forces of darkness from whom man could never by himself have gained any freedom.
Jesus struck at the root of sin, death and all their entourage.These captilaized on man’s depraved cravings to take him prisoner and subject to a law of justice that man would never have wriggled free from.
If the Son, then, sets you free, you are really free! (John 8:36; Philip’s)
Freedom, Not Independence
The First (Old) Testament records how the Israelites sought independence from God several times in the history of their nation. After being freed from oppression in Egypt, God led them into the desert. There, they began to show strong signs of seeking independence from the Living God (Exodus 32:1). They foolishly asked Aaron to make a golden calf; maybe a visible but lifeless golden calf would provide them enough guidance due a god. The result was unpleasant.
Several centuries later, they looked around at the other nations and begin to crave a human king. They did not want the Invisible, Holy and All-Powerful God to be their King (1 Samuel 8). This did not go well either.
What the Israelites failed to live by was “total dependence on the Living God”. God choose the Israelites to be a special people to Him. They were delivered from oppression and slavery in order to be free to “depend completely on God”. However, like Adam and Even in Eden, they were tempted to seek independence from God as the serpent hissed: “you will be able to control your lives, deciding what ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is for yourselves without having to depend on God…in fact, you will be like God”.
This sounds like the claims of some atheists: “we don’t need God, we can decide for ourselves what we want…we can be our own gods”.
Jesus brought freedom in God, not independence from God.
The continued freedom in Christ comes with dependence on Him. He made this clear to His disciples in John 15:4-6:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
To the multitudes, Lord Jesus said:
“As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me (John 6:57).”
John also spoke of this dependence in 1 John 5:11-12
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Obviously, the Freedom is dependent on having Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Independence I Don’t Want
1. Jesus cares about my freedom more than I ever can;
2. He not only knows the correct diagnosis of my captivity but also has absolute power to make me free;
3. He has offered me not just freedom in the moment, but freedom for all ages; and
4. He requires me to totally depend on Him in order to live in absolute freedom (it is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me);
“Even if I could have independence from Lord Jesus, I will rather not have it. This is the ‘Independence’ I never look forward to.”
I will rather continue to acknowledge my “Dependence” on Jesus until I cease completely and Christ is all in all.