WE ALL desire freedom. Or do we? How many times do we unwittingly enslave ourselves? For example, how many of us are slaves to our smartphones? That tiny little master constantly tells us what to read, watch, or buy.
Some people worry that their phone can even read their minds. I’m worried that it puts thoughts in my head that aren’t mine.
Do we prefer to live under domination without personal responsibility? Or do we want to be responsible and free?
When the Hebrews were liberated from pharaoh’s Egypt, it wasn’t long before they began to complain. In the desert, when things got tough, they yearned to be slaves again. At least back in Egypt they had food to eat since their masters fed them.
In Egypt, the Hebrews could not choose. They had no responsibility. Now, wandering in the desert, they were free from the taskmaster’s whip — but they were not yet truly free. They did not want to accept the hardship that comes with freedom.
And what about money? Can’t we buy freedom? We think if we have a lot of money, we are free. Still, what does money say to the wealthy but not wise?
Money says, “You must take care of me, you must desire me. Pay close attention to me so I grow. You must find more ways to spend me. I will give you security and rest. Be thankful for all the things I do for you. I am the cash cow — bow down and worship me.”
The list of false masters goes on and on — ambition, lust, vanity, envy, wrath, and pride. Am I dominated by anger? The desire for recognition? The quest for power?
Meanwhile, in our downtime, we stay glued to our TVs and phones, free from the responsibility to sit in silence before God — free from the responsibility to look inside our hearts.
The false masters don’t mind. They prefer that we escape from God’s presence. They prefer that we abandon our Father’s house. And when we leave, it opens the door to all kinds of false gods to dominate us.
After Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he hid from God. And so began humankind’s slavery to sin. Slavery is full of lies. It’s the abandonment of responsibility. It’s the double life. And the slave keepers are the slaves of the devil.
Controlled by resentment, Cain murdered his brother Abel. Then the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Slavery is the total opposite of loving thy neighbor. It’s envy and greed suffocating the human spirit.
So what does real freedom look like? I think it looks like faith.
It’s faith in God and his promises. His love gives you confidence and courage.
It’s faith in taking a chance and moving forward even if you’re scared.
It’s faith in being part of a community where you don’t agree with everyone, but you trust that the only way to get through life is together.
It’s faith in the value of helping someone, or standing up for them, even if you run the risk of being criticized or getting hurt.
That’s what it looks like to be free. It looks like faith.
And faith manifests itself in action. It’s taking responsibility — it’s carrying your cross. It’s beating back evil with good.
So return to your Father’s house — the place of wide open freedom.
He will clothe you with the finest robe, the garment of salvation.
He will place a ring upon your finger, as responsibility and authority are given to you.
He will place fresh sandals on your feet, so you may go forth to spread the Good News.
And there will be a great feast, for the dead have come to life again, and the lost have been found.
Those with faith will live free. Free to choose. Free to love. Free to serve.
. . . . . . .
So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.Lucas 15:20
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