I have had the opportunity a number of times to be on a Kairos Prison Ministry team. It is rewarding and meaningful to spend a few days with the inmates helping many of them discover Jesus Christ. One of the difficult things though is entering to work with these men in prison and when we leave they are still in prison. They live behind bars. They live under the supervision of armed guards. They live with almost every minute of their lives dominated by prison rules. They are in bondage. They learn to live in bondage because they have no other option. Their hope is that one day they will walk past the guards at the gate to freedom.
Jesus talked about bondage and freedom. He said, “The truth shall set you free”. One of the things He came to do as savior is to set us free from the bondage that is the human condition. “For freedom Christ sets us free” Galatians 5
Without Christ I believe people are in bondage to 3 things:
Sin; Death or mortality, and whatever culture we are defined by.
People are born in bondage to whatever culture they are born, raised, and live in. We follow cultural rules, live by cultural values, and consume by cultural examples. This bondage is powerful and pervasive. We are told what will make us happy, how we should live, what is important and what is not, and how to live our lives to fit into the mold that the culture works to press us into. We are naturally in bondage to culture, a bondage that sometimes we don’t even notice. How can we be set free. Jesus made it clear. He taught in Matthew to “Build our house on a rock” which is “Doing what I have taught you.” For the christian freedom from culture is living by Jesus’ teaching and example. This is what a disciple of Jesus Christ is, one doing what Jesus taught. Matthew 28, one set free from the bondage of culture that is impersonal and cares not a whit for anyone living within it. Disciples live Jesus way and are free, because Jesus way is the way God created us to live.
People are also in bondage to sin. The cross of Christ sets us free from sin. This is where grace reigns in our life, forgives us our sin, gives us second chances, delivers us from that which holds us bondage. “For freedom Christ sets us free”. Galatians 5:1-5 I remember one pastor who I highly respected said after retirement the one thing he would do different, he said, “I would preach on deliverance more”. Christ came to set us free from sin so we could love and live in healthy relationships, with God and each other. Something had to be done with sin and the damage it does, done to us and done by us. The grace offered in the cross of Christ, justification by faith, the free gift of God is this freedom from sin.
As I age I feel more and more the effects of the bondage of death and mortality. We spend much of our lives building family, friendships, and developing our own precarious existence. I felt great loss when both my parents died. I have felt too many losses to count from the death of friends, friends whose funeral I often presided at. I am aware of personal loss as mortality grips me and I discover things I have always done I can’t do as well or at all. I certainly am more aware of death being closer than it was when I was 20. We are in bondage to death and our own mortality. This is why when Mary and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tome 3 days after He died on the cross they heard the words of the angel. “He is not here He is risen”, and “Why do you search for the living among the dead”. If we have trusted Christ we are no longer in bondage to death and mortality because we will one day see our parents and friends again, “no longer looking through a mirror dimly but face to face”. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Forgive me for being a little theological in this post, but I have been thinking about this for some time, “What freedom really is” as like you I struggle with the culture, sin, and morality. I am glad that the God that created us sent us a savior to set us free. The cross washes my sin away, the resurrection defeats death, and the the teaching and example of Jesus Christ offers a counter cultural way of life that is pure freedom as “We love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves.” Luke 10:27 Finding Freedom!